39 Found Dead in Refrigerated Lorry in Essex

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Last Wednesday, 39 dead bodies were found in a truck close to the Watergate Industrial Park in Essex. At first the police believed that all victims were Chinese, but it was said that they would need a longer amount of time to identify the victims. It is one of the most serious migration issues in the UK and has attracted worldwide attention. 


Maurice Robinson, the lorry driver from Craigavon area of County Armagh, along with another five people, have been arrested by the police. Robinson was charged with a number of offences, including 39 counts of manslaughter. In court, it was said that Robinson was part of a “global ring” of smugglers. 

GPS data shows the refrigerated container trailer crossing between the UK and Europe a few days before it was found. Meanwhile, Essex Police said the tractor unit (the front part of the lorry) had entered the UK via Holyhead on Sunday 20 October, having travelled over from Dublin. The local police are currently trying to find out more illegal immigration organisation based on this tragedy. 

With more and more reports coming in from the Vietnam government, as well as the local Vietnamese residents living in the UK, the British authorities have been contacted to set up a channel to help with information exchange and cooperation with the local police. 

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the union for immigration staff (ISU), said local governments have spent vast amounts of funding on border control to ensure high levels of security and attempt to reduce the number of illegal migrants entering the country. However, some argue that more and more people are encouraged to access the UK in  riskier ways in an attempt to avoid detection.   

According to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 12 migrants have been found dead since 2014. The most common cause of death is drowning. 

This is not the only tragic incident of this nature. In 2000, the bodies of 58 Chinese people were found in a container in Dover, Kent. 

Police are still collecting evidence from the victims. 500 items have been collected so far, including mobile phones which are yet to be examined. A force spokesman told the BBC that “as in any instance where a mass fatality has unfolded, we cannot predict how long this process will take”. 

The Vietnamese embassy in London have set up a contact line for people to get in touch. 

Image: Pixabay