British police on Thursday said the 39 people who were found dead in a truck in a UK industrial park on Wednesday were Chinese nationals CNN reports.
England, Northern Ireland and Belgium tried to unravel the event that must have led to the tragic end of the 39 people.
The truck driver, Mo Robinson, 25-year-old Northern Irish was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police said in a statement that they are yet to establish the cause of the death of the death of the eight women and 31 men.
CNN reports that the victims were discovered in a container at the back of the truck, at an industrial park in Grays, Essex, a town 20 miles east of London.
Police believe the container came from Belgium into England early Wednesday morning, while the journey of the truck that transported it is believed to have originated in Northern Ireland.
Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor, Eric van der Sypt, told CNN that a people-trafficking investigation has been opened.
“At this point we don’t know whether these people entered the container at (the Belgian port of) Zeebrugge or whether it arrived with them already on board,” van der Sypt, Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor, told CNN, adding that the container arrived at 2.49 p.m local time on Tuesday and was shipped out of the port the same day.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of trade body the Road Haulage Association – a road haulage expert told CNN believes the truck was refrigerated.
“it is definitely a refrigerated trailer… based on how it looks. 100%.” What is unclear is if the refrigeration was switched on and when exactly the Chinese nationals entered the container.
Police said Thursday that the suspect remained in custody and confirmed that three properties were searched in County Armagh.
Reacting to the ugly incident, the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in statement to CNN said Chinese embassy staff in the UK “are en route to the scene to verify relevant information.”
“We read with heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex, England. We are in close contact with the British police to seek clarification and confirmation of the relevant reports,” China’s embassy in the UK said in a statement.
The Chinese embassy in Belgium has “demanded” a “comprehensive investigation” by Belgian police, according to a statement.
The embassy “attaches high importance to the report that bodies of 39 Chinese nationals were found in a truck in the UK,” it wrote.
The unfortunate incident has brought reaction from Chinese people. Some wonder if those people were being smuggled into the UK out of economic reasons. Others demand answers from the UK government.