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All 39 people found dead in Essex container were Chinese, police confirm

The driver is still being questioned by police.

The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex.
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Oct 24th 2019, 11:55 AM

ALL 39 PEOPLE found in the back of a container in Essex were Chinese nationals, according to multiple reports.

The discovery of the 39 bodies was made in Waterglade Industrial Park with Essex Police saying that the lorry was registered in Bulgaria but entered the UK at Holyhead on Saturday.

However, while the lorry’s tractor (the front section) entered from Holyhead, police have since confirmed that the refrigerated container which housed the 39 people had been shipped from Belgium to the UK.

The container in which the 39 people were situated came through Zeebrugge in Belgium to the UK.

In 2000, 58 Chinese migrants died in the back of lorry travelling by ferry from Belgium to the UK. 

Driver Mo Robinson (25), who is from Armagh, was arrested by police and continues to help them with their investigation. 

Officers in the UK are trying to ascertain if Robinson knew that there were people in the back of his container, and if he is part of a criminal smuggling enterprise.

UK police are also working with their Irish, Dutch and Bulgarian counterparts as they begin an intensive investigation.

In a statement this afternoon, Essex police confirmed they believed that the deceased are all Chinese nations. 

It read: “Of these, 38 are believed to be adults, and one is a young adult woman. We previously reported that she may have been a teenager. We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals. We arrested a man on suspicion of murder, who remains in custody.

“The lorry has since been removed from the industrial park to allow the next stage of our investigative process to be conducted in peace, and to give the utmost dignity to those within the trailer as we prepare for a coroner’s post-mortem examination.

“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. This will be a substantial operation and, at this stage, we cannot estimate how long these procedures will take.”

image (14) Source: PA

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