Essex police were called by the ambulance service shortly before 1:40 a.m. BST (12:40 a.m. GMT) following the horrific discovery at Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue, Grays, the Huffington Post reported citing police.
The bodies of 39 people, 38 adults and one teenager, have been found in a truck container in Essex, according to the police.
Police in Essex say that they believe the truck crossed into the port of Purfleet in eastern England via Zeebrugge, Belgium.
After arriving on British soil, it docked in the Thurrock area at around 12:30 am local time for around 35 minutes before it took off again.
According to the police, the trailer of the truck originated in Ireland.
Essex Police deputy chief constable Mills has stated that the police have not identified exactly where the victims are from.
“This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened. We are in the process of identifying the victims, however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process. We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday 19 October and we are working closely with our partners to investigate”, Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said as quoted by the Huffington Post.
A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder, police say.
“We have arrested the lorry driver in connection with the incident who remains in police custody as our enquiries continue. I appreciate this cordon is going to disrupt the activity of local businesses in the area and we will work to ensure that disruption is kept as short as possible. We are working with Thurrock Council to mitigate against any impact our investigation scene will have locally”, Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner stated.
Reports say a cordon has been put in place and the Waterglade Industrial Park is closed off.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “appalled by this tragic incident in Essex”.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has stated that she is “shocked and saddened” at the news about the bodies in the container.
Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told the parliament’s lower house that Dublin will investigate the matter if it is proven that the vehicle truly drove through country.
“It is a real terrible and human tragedy, and we will carry out any investigations that are necessary if it’s established that the truck did pass through Ireland”, he said.
Varadkar added that the Irish authorities will advise the country’s drivers to be vigilant and conduct their own checks to avoid such incidents.
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Checking Information on Truck with 39 Bodies
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has stated that the truck in which the UK police found the dead bodies was registered in Bulgaria by a firm owned by a female Irish citizen.
According to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the truck has not entered Bulgaria since 2017. Borissov added that Bulgaria has no connection with the deadly incident in the UK apart from the vehicle’s registration.