3 migrants squeeze into hidden compartments in car to enter Spain's territory, found critically ill

MADRID (Reuters) - Three young African men who squeezed into hidden compartments in a car to enter a Spanish territory in North Africa were found in critical condition by border police, the Spanish government said on Friday.

Photos released by the Interior Ministry showed one of the migrants curled up in the spare wheel well of the vehicle, which had been turned into a hidden compartment. Two others were found in another false bottom built into the car.

They could not stand and could barely breathe because of the cramped space, heat and exhaust gases, the ministry said. They recovered after being given emergency treatment.

The three - two from Guinea and one from Ivory Coast, aged from 18 to 25 - were found on Wednesday when border police at a crossing between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla grew suspicious and searched the car.

The 39-year-old Spanish driver of the car was arrested, accused of a "crime against the rights of foreign citizens", the ministry said in a statement.

African migrants are taking increasingly desperate measures to try to reach Europe. Thousands have died making the voyage across the Mediterranean. Last week, a Moroccan man suffocated while being smuggled to Spain in a suitcase stowed in the boot of a car.