LONDON – Police have arrested a man and a woman on suspicion of people trafficking as part of the investigation into how the bodies of39 people came to be found in a truck containerin southeast England on Wednesday.
The man and the woman, both 38 and from Warrington in Cheshire, northwest England, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on 39 counts of manslaughter, Essex policesaid in a statement Friday.
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British police typically do not name suspects until or unless they are charged and police urged the media and the public not to speculate over their identities.
A 25 – year-old truck driver from Northern Ireland was arrested Wednesday and remains in police custody.
The trailer had arrived at the docks in Essex, southern England, having traveled from Zeebrugge in Belgium, and the bodies were found in the town of Grays, east of London, more than an hour later, at 1: 40 am Wednesday, officials said.
On Thursday authorities began the slow process of determining the cause of the deaths and identifying the bodies. At least 11 were taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and the local coroner began postmortem examinations Friday. Police warned that this process could be “lengthy.”
“This is all being done in close liaison with HM Coroner and we continue to work to ensure that the dignity of victims and respect for their loved ones are at the forefront of our investigation, “the police statement said.
On Thursday, police identified the dead as Chinese nationals, and the story hasgained huge coverage in China.
“We read with heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex, England, “China’s Embassy in London said in a statement to NBC News.