39 found dead in truck identified as Chinese nationals: police

1010 WINS Newsroom
October 24, 2019 - 3:18 pm

Police escort the truck, that was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, as they move it from an industrial estate in Thurrock, south England, Wednesday Oct. 23, 2019. Police in southeastern England said that 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a truck container believed to have come from Bulgaria. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the death of 39 people found in a truck container in southeastern England (all times local):

3:10 p.m.

British detectives investigating the deaths of 39 people found in a refrigerated truck in southeastern England have been given an additional 24 hours to question the driver on suspicion of murder.

The 25-year-old truck driver from Northern Ireland has not been charged in the tragedy.

Police say in a statement Thursday that the recovery of the bodies, all Chinese citizens, is ongoing and that the post-mortem and identification process will take time.

They are getting assistance from Chinese embassy officials in London and police in Belgium, where the truck's container apparently was put on a ferry at the port of Zeebrugge and sent to England.

A book of condolences has been placed at the town office in Grays, the site of the industrial park where the truck containing the bodies was found early Wednesday.

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2:15 p.m.

Belgian authorities say they have yet to make headway in finding out how a container with 39 Chinese citizens ended up in their port of Zeebrugge before it was discovered in England with all stowaways dead.

Prosecution spokesman Eric Van Duyse said Thursday that "up till now, we have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. We don't even know which road was followed by the truck in Belgium."

Among the other outstanding questions on the truck container, Van Duyse said "we don't know how much time it stayed in Belgian territory. We don't know if it stopped or not. We don't know if the people got into the container or not."

Van Duyse said the next step for Belgian authorities is cooperating with British police on the investigation.

The Essex Police force says the dead found Wednesday in the southeastern English town of Grays included 31 men and eight women, all Chinese.

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11:50 a.m.

British police have confirmed that 39 people found dead in a container truck near an English port were Chinese citizens.

The Essex Police force says the dead found Wednesday in the southeastern town of Grays included 31 men and eight women. The force says one victim previously thought to be a teenager was a young adult woman.

The 25-year-old truck driver, who is from Northern Ireland, is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder but has not been charged. Police in Northern Ireland have searched three properties there as they try to reconstruct the path of the truck and the victims' final journey.

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11:05 a.m.

British media are reporting that the 39 people found dead in the back of a truck in southeastern England were Chinese citizens.

Britain's Press Association cited sources in its report Thursday. The BBC, ITV and Sky also cited sources in releasing the same information.

British police on Thursday also raided two sites in Northern Ireland and questioned a truck driver as officers investigate the death of the 38 adults and one teenager. The victims were found Wednesday in a truck container at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, a town 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of London.

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10:05 a.m.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office says it is clear that the container in which 39 people were found dead had come through the North Sea port of Zeebrugge.

In a statement, the office said the container was only a short time at the port before it went across the sea to the English town of Purfleet, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of London.

The statement said it appears the container arrived in Zeebrugge on Oct. 22 at 2:49 p.m. local time (1249 GMT), and "left the port the same day in the afternoon."

Cooling containers often move swiftly through Zeebrugge, often just with a visual check, for the short crossing to England.

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9:30 a.m.

Police raided two sites in Northern Ireland and questioned a truck driver as officers investigate the death of 39 people found in a container at an industrial park in southeastern England.

The truck and the trailer with the people inside apparently took separate circuitous journeys before ending up on the grounds of the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of London on the River Thames.

British police said they believe the container went from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet, England, where it arrived early Wednesday.

A National Crime Agency assessment report on serious and organized crime last year said there was a "greater focus" on rising smuggler numbers in Belgium after the closure of the Dunkirk migrant camp in 2017.

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