Thirty-nine dead bodies found in a truck container in England have been identified as Chinese nationals, according to police. All 39 people were pronounced dead on the scene at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays on Wednesday, reports CBS. The truck driver, 25-year-old Mo Robinson from Portadown, Northern Ireland was arrested and is being questioned on suspicion of murder. However, he has not been charged. Police believe the Chinese nationals were victims of human smuggling.
The container traveled from Zeebrugge, Belgium and arrived at Purfleet around 12:20 am, reports USA Today. The truck, on the other hand, came from Northern Ireland. Both truck and the container left Purfleet around 1:05 am on Wednesday. Around 1:40 am ambulance workers called the police after they discovered the bodies in the truck at Waterglade Industrial Park.
Thirty one of the victims were men while the other eight were women. British media is reporting that the victims froze to death.
“This is an incredibly sensitive and high-profile investigation, and we are working swiftly to gather as full a picture as possible as to how these people lost their lives,” Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said. “Our recovery of the bodies is ongoing and the postmortem and identification processes, which will be lengthy and complex, can then begin.”
The container was registered in Bulgaria to Global Trailer Rentals owned by an Irish national. It was leased on October 15 and has GPS trackers. However, Belgium authorities are having a hard time tracking the truck’s route. The company released a statement saying that it was “unaware” of how the container would be used.
According to CNN, Chinese embassy staff in the UK “are en route to the scene to verify relevant information.”
It is unknown when the Chinese citizens entered the container. But the chief executive of Zeebrugge Port, Joachim Coens said it is “extremely unlikely” the victims entered the container at his port.