Essex lorry deaths: 39 bodies found in a shipping container
The bodies of 39 individuals are found in a lorry container in Essex.
The car, registered in Bulgaria, was found shortly before 01:40 BST in Waterglade Industrial Park at Grays, authorities said.
Essex Police transferred the lorry into a secure place so the bodies inside could be recovered.
The lorry driver, called locally as Mo Robinson, 25, from the Portadown area of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, has been detained on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police said the trailer came via ferry from Zeebrugge, Belgium, into Purfleet on the River Thames.
The boat docked in the Thurrock area soon after 00:30, the force said.
It’s considered the container and lorry subsequently left the port together about 35 minutes later.
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills stated identifying the victims remained a”number one priority”, but was expected to be a”lengthy process”.
The National Crime Agency said it had sent officers to help and establish any”organized crime groups who might have played a part”.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said the container seemed to be a refrigerated unit, where temperatures may be as low as -25C.
He described conditions for anybody indoors as”absolutely horrible”.
A spokesman for the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry affirmed the truck was registered in the country.
“The Scania truck was enrolled in Varna (on the east coast) under the title of a business owned by an Irish citizen,” he said.
“Police said it is highly improbable that they are Bulgarians,” he added.
Police have appealed for witnesses and anyone with information regarding the lorry’s path to get hold of them.
The force said it considered the tractor unit – or front part – of the lorry had come from Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated it was an”unthinkable catastrophe and truly heartbreaking”.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he explained:”I know the thoughts and prayers of all members will be with those who lost their lives and their nearest and dearest.
“I am receiving regular updates. The Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened.”
‘Contempt for life’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was”shocked and saddened”, while Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price stated it was”sickening news”.
Throughout PMQs, Ms Doyle-Price explained:”To place 39 people to a locked metal container reveals a contempt for human life that’s evil. The best thing we can do in memory of these victims is to discover the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Mr Johnson responded stating”all such dealers in human beings ought to be hunted down and brought to justice”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was an”incredible human catastrophe”, including:”Could we just think for a minute of what it must have been like for those 39 people, obviously in a desperate and dangerous situation, for their lives to end, suffocated to death in a container?”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told the Dail that investigations would be undertaken to establish whether the lorry had passed through Ireland.