Police mentioned the container arrived by sea in Purfleet, Essex, early Wednesday morning from the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge. Just more than an hour later, at about 1.40 a.m., ambulance workers referred to as police to the truck, which was by then parked in an industrial estate in the nearby town of Grays.
A 25-year-old truck driver from Northern Ireland was arrested on suspicion of murder, police mentioned.
Paul Berry — a regional councilor for Armagh in Northern Ireland — identified the driver as Morris Robinson. Berry told CNN that he discovered of the arrest right after speaking with Robinson’s father.
The regional councilor mentioned the driver was identified locally as “Mo,” and that his family members is “salt of the earth and clearly we will need to give them space.”
Earlier, police mentioned that the Bulgaria-registered car entered the UK via the Welsh port of Holyhead more than the weekend. A standard ferry service connects Holyhead with the Irish capital, Dublin. Police later mentioned the truck, and not the container, had originated in Northern 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 mentioned in a statement.
As the tragedy unfolded, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to as for the crime’s perpetrators and “all such traders in human beings” to be “hunted down and brought to justice.”
Aerial footage of the scene, filmed by Reuters, showed a police cordon and black tent set up at the back of the white container, which was attached to a red Scania truck.
CNN saw the truck becoming moved later on Wednesday. Police mentioned it would be moved to a “safe place” at Tilbury docks, about a 20-minute drive away from Grays, to “sustain the dignity of these who have lost their lives.”
PM ‘appalled’ by tragedy
News of the grisly discovery shocked British lawmakers lots of Members of Parliament speculated in the Property of Commons on Wednesday that the incident was linked to human trafficking. Police have not confirmed that claim.
Jackie Doyle-Price tag, who is the Conservative MP for Thurrock, exactly where the bodies have been discovered, wrote on Twitter: “Sickening news of 39 individuals discovered dead in a container in Grays. People today trafficking is a vile and hazardous company. This is a significant investigation for Essex Police. Let’s hope they bring these murderers to justice.”
Richard Burnett, chief executive of trade physique the Road Haulage Association, told reporters the container appeared to be refrigerated. That could imply freezing temperatures of anyplace in between -five to -10 degrees Fahrenheit, he told PA Media, generating circumstances “completely horrendous” for everyone stuck inside.
Irish, Northern Irish and Bulgarian authorities have also been alerted to the discovery as English forces scrambled to figure out the truck and container’s route to the UK.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned the Scania truck was registered in the Bulgarian coastal city of Varna by an Irish citizen. In a statement, it added that the police assume it is “extremely unlikely” the victims have been Bulgarian citizens.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told the country’s Parliament on Wednesday that investigations would be carried out “if it is established the truck passed via Ireland.”
Ireland’s police force, An Garda Síochána, mentioned it was monitoring the UK investigation, “and will present just about every help probable.”
Human trafficking incidents
Police placed a cordon about the industrial park in Grays and mentioned they have been functioning with the regional council “to mitigate against any effect our investigation scene will have locally.”
The industrial estate is comprised of logistics and courier businesses, some of which have been inaccessible mainly because of the cordon.
A regional resident who lives a street away from the industrial estate told CNN he was heartbroken for the victims.
“It is so sad. My heart is broken for them,” Shafi Stated, a 35-year-old taxi driver, mentioned. “They are all innocent individuals — and there was a kid on board. I’ve got an 11-year-old son, I was so shocked — if you place oneself in their position, yeah it is quite shocking.”
“Definitely, it is terrible news,” Dan Peters, a managing director of Pirtek, a hydraulic upkeep firm primarily based on the street the truck was discovered, told PA news agency. “We’re not capable to obtain access to our units to open up for each day company.”
The UK Residence Secretary, Priti Patel, mentioned she was “shocked and saddened” by what she referred to as the “utterly tragic incident,” according to her Twitter account.
In current years there have been a quantity of fatal incidents in the UK and Europe involving significant numbers of migrants who have been discovered suffocated to death in trucks or containers.
The previous year has noticed an raise in the quantity of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel by boat. Authorities have partially linked that rise to the UK enforcing additional stringent border checks — which in turn has produced the solution of truck crossings a additional complicated and pricey affair, as smugglers raise their costs.
This story has been updated to right the time police have been referred to as by the ambulance service.
Sharon Braithwaite, Nina Avramova, Rob Picheta, Scott McLean and Peter Taggart contributed to this report.