BBC – October 23, 2019
The bodies of 39 people have been found in a lorry container in Essex.
Police were called by the ambulance service shortly before 01:40 BST after the discovery at Waterglade Industrial Park in Eastern Avenue, Grays.
The lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police said the vehicle travelled from Bulgaria and entered the UK via Holyhead, Anglesey, on Saturday.
Early indications are that 38 adults and one teenager have died, the force said. There were no survivors.
Essex lorry deaths: Latest updates
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said identifying the victims “remains our number one priority”.
She appealed for anyone with information about the route the lorry may have taken, or anyone who had seen the vehicle or knew about its journey, to get in touch.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Prime Minister’s Questions it was an “unimaginable tragedy and truly heartbreaking”.
He said: “I know that the thoughts and prayers of all members will be with those who lost their lives and their loved ones. I’m receiving regular updates. The Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened.”
‘Contempt for human life’
Irish Premier Leo Varadkar told the Dail that the deaths were a “human tragedy”, adding that investigations would be undertaken to establish if the lorry had passed through Ireland.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was ” shocked and saddened by this utterly tragic incident”, while Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said it was ” sickening news “.
During PMQs, Ms Doyle-Price said: “To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil. The best thing we can do in memory of those victims is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
She also paid tribute to the emergency services, saying what they had witnessed would stay with them forever.
Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland policy manager for the Freight Transport Association, said if the lorry had come from Bulgaria, getting into Britain via Holyhead was an “unorthodox route”.
He said: “People have been saying that security and checks have been increased at places like Dover and Calais, so it might be seen as an easier way to get in by going from Cherbourg or Roscoff, over to Rosslare, then up the road to Dublin.
“It’s a long way around and it’ll add an extra day to the journey.”
How many migrants have died in transit?
The number of migrants who die in transit has been recorded by the UN since 2014 .
Since then, five bodies of suspected migrants have been found in lorries or containers in the UK:
- 2014 : An Afghan migrant was found dead at Tilbury Docks, Essex. He was in a shipping container, with 34 Afghans who survived
- 2015 : Two migrants were found dead in a wooden crate in a warehouse in Branston, Staffordshire. The crate had been sent from Italy
- 2016 : An 18-year-old migrant was crushed while clinging to the underside of a lorry in Banbury, Oxfordshire
- 2016 : A body was found in the back of a lorry in Kent, which had travelled from France
Data was not collected in the same way before the migrant crisis began in 2014, but such deaths are not new.
In 2000, 58 Chinese migrants were found suffocated to death in a lorry at Dover.
The National Crime Agency said it had sent officers to assist the investigation and identify any “organised crime groups who may have played a part”. Ch Supt Andrew Mariner, from Essex Police, said he expected identifying the victims would be a “lengthy process”.
A spokeswoman for Bulgarian police confirmed they were aware of the deaths.