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Migrants in container at English docks identified

The 30 survivors are Afghan Sikhs, police said.

Tilbury Docks - stock A crane along the quay side at Tilbury Docks in Essex. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE FRAIL SURVIVORS found inside a shipping container at a British port at the weekend following a “horrific ordeal” are Sikhs from Afghanistan, police said.

One man was found dead in the container, and 34 men, women and children — all suffering from severe dehydration and hypothermia — were found still alive Saturday after staff at Tilbury Docks, east of London, heard banging and screaming coming from inside.

All the survivors were taken to nearby hospitals, where four remain, and the local Sikh community has been helping with their religious and clothing needs.

Using interpreters, police intend to interview the survivors to pin down how they came to be found in such circumstances.

Container death at Tilbury Docks An ambulance incident van passes a police officer standing by the main entrance to Tilbury Docks in Essex, where a shipping container was found with illegal immigrants inside with one dead and the rest ill and taken to hospital. Source: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The container had arrived by truck at Zeebrugge seaport in Belgium around 12 hours before the people inside were discovered at Tilbury, having crossed the North Sea on a ferry.

They may have been inside the container for several hours before that.

“The welfare and health of the people is our priority at this stage,” said superintendent Trevor Roe, of the local Essex police.

“Now they are well enough, our officers and colleagues from the Border Force will be speaking to them via interpreters so we can piece together what happened and how they came to be in the container.

“We now understand that they are from Afghanistan and are of the Sikh faith.

“We have had a good deal of help from partners within the local Sikh community in the Tilbury area to ensure that these poor people, who would have been through a horrific ordeal, are supported in terms of their religious and clothing needs.”

- © AFP 2014.

Read: Over 30 people, including children, found in shipping container at Essex docks

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