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British police investigate 39 bodies found in truck container

By Clyde Hughes
British police investigate 39 bodies found in truck container
Police investigate at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, Britain, on Wednesday, where 39 bodies were discovered inside a lorry container. Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- British authorities are investigating the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found Wednesday in a heavy truck container at an industrial park, officials said.

A 25-year-old Northern Ireland man was arrested, authorities said, and the truck is believed to have come from Bulgaria. Authorities are trying to determine if the truck is connected to human trafficking.

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Essex Police said the truck and container were found at the Waterglade Industrial Park.

"This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives," Essex Police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said. "Our inquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened. Weare in the process of identifying the victims, however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process.

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"We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday and we are working closely with our partners to investigate."

Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland policy manager for the Freight Transport Association, said the truck's route from Bulgaria to Britain was "unorthodox."

"There is a direct route to Holyhead from Dublin," Leheny said. "If the lorry came from Bulgaria, getting into Britain via Holyhead is an unorthodox route. It's a long way around and it'll add an extra day to the journey."

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "appalled."

"I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened," he tweeted. "My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives and their loved ones."

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulauge Association, called it a case of "people-smuggling."

"Our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives, but whatever the circumstances of this tragedy it highlights the danger of migrant gangs people-smuggling on lorries," he said.

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