Lorry container deaths investigation: What we know so far

Police are investigating the deaths of 39 people found inside a lorry in Essex.

Here is what we know so far:

– Essex Police received reports of a number of people discovered inside a lorry container at 1.40am on Wednesday.

– The lorry was found at Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in Grays, Thurrock, in Essex.

Bodies found in lorry container
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills (Victoria Jones/PA)

– Ambulance staff found all 39 victims, including a teenager, dead inside the container.

– A murder investigation was launched and the lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder and is in police custody.

– The lorry driver has been named in reports as Mo Robinson from Portadown in Co Armagh.

– Police have yet to identify the lorry victims or where they are from, saying that this could be a “lengthy process”.

– The lorry trailer is believed to have travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet, Essex, and docked in the Thurrock area shortly after 12:30am on Wednesday.

Ship sinks in the Irish Sea
Holyhead (Peter Byrne/PA)

– A freight ferry service runs from Zeebrugge to Purfleet.

– The tractor unit front section of the lorry is believed to have originated in Northern Ireland.

– Police believe the tractor unit and trailer left the port in Thurrock shortly after 1.05am.

– It was originally thought that the lorry entered the country through Holyhead in north Wales on Saturday.

– The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Scania lorry was registered in Varna, a city on the east coast of the country, under the name of a company owned by an Irish citizen.

– The ministry added that police said it is “highly unlikely” the victims are Bulgarians.

– A road haulage expert said the lorry container appeared to be a refrigerated unit, with temperatures inside able to drop as low as -25C.

Bodies found in lorry container
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, heading towards Tilbury Docks under police escort (Aaron Chown/PA)

– A cordon was erected at the industrial site in Grays while police conducted their investigations.

– A casualty bureau was also set up by police for people to call if they are concerned about relatives who may be involved in the incident.

– The lorry was later moved under police escort from the industrial park to a secure location at Tilbury Docks.

We are aware of this tragic incident which is now the subject of a murder investigation being led by Essex Police and we have deployed NCA officers to assist. https://t.co/jm1mPjDi0r

— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) October 23, 2019

– Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled” by the incident and said the perpetrators of the crime “should be hunted down and brought to justice”.

– Officers from the Essex Police, the National Crime Agency and Immigration Enforcement are all working on the case.

Chinese immigrants deaths vigil
Members of the Chinese Civil Rights Action Group, holding images of the 58 Chinese illegal immigrants, commemorate the 54 men and four women who suffocated while concealed in a lorry passing through Dover (Fiona Hanson/PA)

– The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was supporting the Essex Police investigation, while the Irish police, An Garda Siochana, said they would “provide every assistance possible”.

– The incident is not the worst of its kind in the UK. The bodies of 58 Chinese people were found in a container at Dover, Kent, in 2000.

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