39 bodies found inside truck container in Britain, murder investigation launched – The Washington Post, The Washington Post

39 bodies found inside truck container in Britain, murder investigation launched – The Washington Post, The Washington Post

LONDON – British police launched a murder investigation on Wednesday after 39 bodies were found inside a tractor-trailer on an industrial estate in southeast England.

Essex Police saida 25 – year-old man from Northern Ireland had been arrested on suspicion of murder. The bodies were found at Waterglade Industrial Park in the Essex town of Grays, about 25 miles east of central London.

Police have not yet offered an account of what might have happened, but the scene bore the markings of human trafficking.

Police said they received a call around 1: 40 am Wednesday from local ambulance services. The victims, pronounced dead at the scene, included 38 adults and one teenager.

Police believe the truck was from Bulgaria. They did not specifically identify the victims as migrants. Though because citizens of Bulgaria, another European Union member state, can travel freely to Britain, that suggests the occupants of the truck were from elsewhere.

The truck entered the United Kingdom on Saturday via Holyhead in North Wales, according to police. Holyhead is one of the busiest ports for ferries from Ireland.

“We have arrested the lorry driver in connection with the incident who remains in police custody as our enquiries continue,” Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said in the statement. “This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened. ”

Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said police have not yet identified the victims or where they are from, adding it could be a“ lengthy process. ”When asked by reporters how the truck had entered Ireland, she said that establishing the truck’s movements was a key line of inquiry.

British Prime MinisterBoris Johnson saidhe was “appalled by this tragic incident in Essex.”

“I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened. My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives & their loved ones, ”he tweeted.

Jackie Doyle-Price, a Conservative lawmaker, told Parliament on Wednesday:“ Sadly, this is not the first time that we have found people in metal containers in my constituency. We’re really sorry to say it’s all too regular an occurrence and it was only a matter of time before that would end in tragedy. ”

“ This is now a multinational problem that we need to fix, ”she added.

British authorities say human trafficking and modern-day slavery are on the rise. The National Crime Agency figures show that last year 6, 993 potential victims were referred to the government program that aims to identify and support victims – a 36 percent increase from 2017. The agency states, “potential victims of human trafficking were reported from 130 different nationalities in 2018 [and] Albanian and Vietnamese nationals were the most commonly reported. ”The victims are used as forced labor, in the sex industry and other work.

Most fatal incidents in which victims died inside shipping containers in recent years have involved migrants, however.

In June 2000, the bodies of58 Chinese immigrantswere found in the back of a truck container in English port city of Dover. The following year a Dutch driver was sentenced to 14 years in jail for manslaughter. The immigrants, who paid a smuggling gang $ 26, 000, suffocated to death after the driver closed the air vent on the truck during a five-hour ferry ride across the English Channel.

In August 2015, 71 bodies werefound on a highway in Austria, inside a hermetically sealed and locked freezer truck. Most victims were from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.The discovery came at the peak ofEurope’s refugee influxand became one of its defining, tragic moments.

Research by German public television and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper later revealed that Hungarian officials had tapped the traffickers’ phones, but failed to intervene on time.

After the 2015 incident, the E.U. Law Enforcement Agency (Europol) added a dedicated European Migrant Smuggling Center. In a report published this year, the center found that the most common method of human trafficking involves concealing people in cars, vans or trucks.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association, said the driver arrested in Essex may have chosen a longer route to enter the UK than needed in an effort to avoid the strict checks at the crossing between Calais, France, and Dover, England. He said authorities there use sniffer dogs and monitors that can detect heartbeats, heat and CO2 levels, among other things. “So, inevitably, criminals will find new ways of outsmarting the law,” he said.

He speculated that a journey from Bulgaria to Essex – via the French port of Cherbourg and the Irish port of Rosslare followed by the Welsh port of Holyhead, if that’s the route the truck took – could have taken up to five days.

He said the journey for those in the truck, which pictures show has a refrigerated unit, “would have been appallingly hellish. It would be completely dark, probably completely airless, no sanitary facilities, possibly freezing temperatures, with the likelihood of death from freezing or suffocation enormous. ”

Noack reported from Berlin. William Booth in London contributed to this report.

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