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A container truck in London was found with 39 bodies on Wednesday, October 23. According to Essex Police, all the people were pronounced dead at the scene in an industrial park in Grays, east of London. The victims included 38 adults and one teenager.
Police have arrested a 25-year-old man, the truck’s driver, from Northern Ireland on suspicion of murder. “This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives,” The Economic Times quoted Essex Police chief superintendent Andrew Mariner as saying in a statement.
“I’m appalled by this tragic incident in Essex,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Reportedly, the truck entered Britain at Holyhead on the northwest tip of Wales — one of the main ports from Ireland for ferries.
The UK and the Republic of Ireland have their own historic Common Travel Area but are not in the European Union’s no-borders Schengen zone. There are no checks on the movement of people and goods between the two.
The victims, eight women and 31 men, have been identified as Chinese nationals, most likely the victims of gangs who smuggle human cargo from European seaports into Britain via shipping containers.
Investigations have extended to Belgium, Ireland, Bulgaria and China. Experts following human trafficking trends have suggested that the deceased could have been compelled into forced labour, or could have been migrants. Britain’s National Crime Agency is trying to identify “organised crime groups who may have played a part.”
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