The 39 people found dead in the back of a truck in the UK were all believed to be Chinese nationals, authorities confirmed in a statement, Thursday.
The deceased, including a teenage girl, were found packed in the back of a Scania truck in Grays, Essex, at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday.
“We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals,” Essex police said, with one of the female victims a teenager.
This container truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock, south England on Oct 22
The driver, 25-year-old Mo Robinson was arrested after the container truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thursday, south England on Wednesday
The tragic discovery was made at Waterglade Industrial Park in the town of Grays at about 1:40 am Wednesday, according to Essex police.
“We are in the process of identifying the victims, however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process,” police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said.
“We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday 19 October.” The truck is believed to have traveled from Ireland, crossing into Holyhead in Wales by ferry on Saturday, finally driving to Grays in Essex, where it was found around 1:40 a.m.
All 39 people, including at least one teenager, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, later identified as Mo Robinson, is in custody.
“This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives,” Chief Mariner added. “Our inquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened.”
“Each of the 39 people must undergo a full coroner’s process to establish a cause of death,” the force said, warning it was a lengthy and “substantial operation.”
The container they were packed inside appeared to be refrigerated, with temperatures as low as minus 13-degrees, according to Road Haulage Association chief exec Richard Burnett, who said it would have been “absolutely horrendous” inside.
Authorities were quick to blame human traffickers, with specialist officers looking at potential “organized crime groups who have played a role,” the National Crime Agency confirmed on Twitter.
The truck driver has been identified as Mo Robinson [photo], 25, The lorry driver has been named locally as Mo Robinson, from County Armagh in Northern Ireland. He remains in police custody as the search for accomplices expands
Under escort, cops remove the container truck in which 39 people were found dead in Grays, Essex, UK on Wednesday
His dad learned of his son’s arrest through social media, according to local councilor Paul Berry, who said the village of Laurelvale in County Armagh was in “complete shock,” the BBC reports.
“The local community is hoping that he [Mo Robinson] has been caught up innocently in this matter but that’s in the hands of Essex Police, and we will leave it in their professional hands to try to catch the perpetrators of this,” he said.
The truck was registered in Bulgaria to a company owned by an unidentified Irish woman, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.