The immigration service at London's Heathrow Airport was thrown into disarray today as thousands of visitors from the Indian subcontinent tried to beat a midnight deadline requiring them to have visas to enter Britain.
A spokesman for the Home Office described immigration facilities at Heathrow as "chockablock" and said the 150 officers were under "tremendous pressure and stress."
The last-minute travelers were hoping to gain entry to Britain before midnight, when government regulations require residents of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and certain African countries to have visas to be admitted as visitors for up to 12 months.
5,000 Turned Away
In 1985, 260,000 residents of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan were allowed into Britain as visitors for periods ranging up to 12 months. Another 5,000 were refused entry because immigration officers were not satisfied they were genuine visitors who intended to return to their country of residence.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government decided to require visas for passport-holders from certain countries to ease pressure on the immigration service.