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British police arrest 2 more in connection with deaths of 39 in truck

By Nicholas Sakelaris
British police arrest 2 more in connection with deaths of 39 in truck
A total of 39 bodies were discovered inside a truck container in the early hours of the morning. They were pronounced dead at the scene. Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- British police arrested two more people in connection with the deaths of 39 people who were found inside a truck trailer in Essex.

A man and woman, both 38, were arrested on conspiracy to traffic and 39 counts of manslaughter, Essex police said in a statement. They were from Warrington. A 25-year-old man who was driving the truck remains in custody on suspicion of murder.

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The bodies were discovered in the Waterglade Industrial Park in the early morning on Wednesday.

On Thursday, British authorities began the process of moving victims from Port Tilbury to the mortuary at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

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

"This is all being done in close liaison with the HM Coroner and we continue to work to ensure that the dignity of victims and respect for their loved ones are at the forefront of our investigation," police said.

Autopsies will start on Friday. Identifying the bodies will be a "lengthy but crucial part of his investigation," police said.

Police are starting to piece together the journey the truck and its driver took. It started in Northern Ireland where it went to Dublin and then took a ferry to Holyhead in north Wales before meeting the trailer in Purfleet.

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From there the truck and trailer went to Zeebrugge, Belgium, Tuesday.

Zeebrugge Mayor Dirk De Fauw, also the chairman of the port, said it would be "virtually impossible" for the smuggling victims to get into the trailer at the Belgian border.

All trailers are "systematically checked."

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"Trailers are filmed until they are on the ferry. In the terminals too there are cameras," De Fauw said. "Breaking the seal, putting 39 people in a trailer and resealing the trailer without anybody noticing is virtually impossible."

The Belgian prosecutor's office said it's not clear when the victims were put in the container.

The victims were all Chinese and state-run newspaper Global Times blames the British.

"It is clear that Britain and relevant European countries have not fulfilled their responsibility to protect these people from such a death," the newspaper said.

The Chinese embassy sent a team to Essex and the Chinese foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the country hopes police can "as soon as possible confirm and verify the identities of the victims."

A similar incident occurred in 2000 when 58 Chinese people were found dead in a container at Dover, Britain.

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