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British police: 39 bodies found in truck container were Chinese nationals

By Clyde Hughes
Police drive a truck container from the Waterglade Industrial Park in Essex, Britain, where the bodies of 39 people were found Wednesday. Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE
Police drive a truck container from the Waterglade Industrial Park in Essex, Britain, where the bodies of 39 people were found Wednesday. Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The bodies of 39 people found in a truck container in Britain belonged to Chinese nationals, investigators said Thursday.

The bodies, which authorities say were moved from Belgium to Essex in Britain, were found in the trailer early Wednesday at the Waterglade Industrial Park and the driver was arrested. Police identified the him as Mo Robinson, 25, a citizen of Northern Ireland. He faces potential murder charges.

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"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 in a statement.

The National Crime Agency said it's investigating possible ties to organized crime, and authorities raided three homes in Northern Ireland searching for clues Wednesday.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said human traffickers have been avoiding ports with heavy security in favor of lesser-used entry points.

"That kind of pushes the problem further out to more remote ports, and if we haven't got the infrastructure in place there from a security perspective to check those vehicles then traffickers will definitely use those routes to try and get migrants into [Britain]," Burnett said.

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Essex Police said the trailer arrived in Britain from the Belgium port city of Zeebrugge, and originated in Northern Ireland.

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