British Police Find 39 Bodies in Truck

Elias Hubbard
October 25, 2019

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was appalled by the news and was receiving regular updates about the investigation, which was focused on human trafficking.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry posted a statement on its social media account saying that Chinese embassy employees in the United Kingdom were driving to the scene of the crime to aid the investigation.

Essex police said their priority was ensuring dignity for the victims during their inquiry.

The tragedy recalls the deaths of 58 Chinese migrants who suffocated in a truck in Dover, England, in 2000 after a perilous, months-long journey from China's southern Fujian province. "The panic when those people knew that they couldn't get out must have just been unimaginable".

They are getting assistance from Chinese embassy officials in London and police in Belgium, where the truck's container apparently was put on a ferry at the port of Zeebrugge and sent to England.

Police said that three properties in Northern Ireland are being searched.

The driver of the truck was a 25-year-old man from Armagh, who remains under arrest on suspicion of murder by Essex Police.

"Each of the 39 people must undergo a full coroner's process to establish a cause of death before we move on to attempting to identify each individual within the trailer", they said, adding that it would be a time-consuming operation.

The container arrived in Purfleet, a town on the River Thames, early Wednesday morning, the Belgian Federal Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

Andrew Mariner, an Essex police chief superintendent, told reporters that the truck is believed to have entered Britain on October 19 via the Welsh port of Holyhead, a major entry point for traffic from Ireland.

The red cab unit of the truck was believed to have originated in Ireland.

The vehicle had licence plates issued in Bulgaria after it was registered there in 2017 by an Irish citizen, according to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian authorities said it had not yet been confirmed whether the truck had a Bulgarian registration or whether the truck had started its journey from Bulgaria.

In another incident Wednesday, police in Kent in southeast England said they had discovered nine people stowed away inside another truck, after stopping the vehicle on a motorway.

The NCA warned in its last annual report that traffickers "favour hard sided refrigerated lorries to transport migrants to the UK".

Groups of migrants have repeatedly landed on English shores using small boats to make the risky Channel crossing, and migrants are sometimes found in the back of cars and trucks that disembark from the massive ferries that link France and England.

Hua Po, a Beijing-based analyst of Chinese migration, said the flow of Chinese workers to Europe has gone up as "China's own policy has become more and more conservative and closed" under President Xi Jinping.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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