Police continues investigation over Essex lorry deaths  

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Police are continuing to question a lorry driver over 39 people found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex

Mo Robinson, 25, from Portadown, County Armagh, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Wednesday by Essex Police.

Officers in Northern Ireland have raided two houses and the National Crime Agency said it was working to identify “organised crime groups who may have played a part.”

The trailer arrived in Purfleet on the River Thames from Zeebrugge, Belgium.

Ambulance staff discovered the bodies in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays just after 01:30 BST on Wednesday. The lorry and trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 01:05.

A spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, Eric Van Duyse, said an investigation into the incident was under way.

“We have no idea at the moment how long the lorry spent in Belgium, it could be hours or days, we just don’t know,” he said

Police reports
Police said the front part of the lorry came from Northern Ireland and picked up the trailer from Purfleet.

Essex Deputy Chief Constable, Pippa Mills said the vehicle had been moved to a secure site at Tilbury Docks so the bodies of the 38 adults and one teenager could be “recovered while preserving the dignity of the victims.”

Chinese nationalities
The 39 people found dead have been identified as Chinese.

The nationalities of the victims were not immediately known, with the police warning that the formal identification “could be a lengthy process.”

Essex Police had earlier suggested that the lorry could be from Bulgaria, but later said they believed the vehicle entered the UK from Belgium.

A spokesman for the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry said the truck was registered in the country under the name of a company owned by an Irish citizen.

He said it was “highly unlikely” the deceased were Bulgarians.

Chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, said temperatures in refrigerated trailers could be as low as 25 degrees centigrade.

He described conditions for anyone inside as “absolutely horrendous.”

 

Christopher Ojilere