39 Dead in Essex Were Chinese, Officials Say

  • Law enforcement identified, raided, and searched two homes in Nothern Ireland suspected to be linked to the incident.
  • Mo Robinson, 25 of Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • The British National Crime Agency has indicated that it is working to identify “organized criminal groups that may have participated” in these events.

The 39 dead bodies that were found in a truck on Wednesday in an industrial estate near London were Chinese nationals, according to police, as reported by several local and international media. “We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals,” police said in a statement on Thursday. There was also one teenager among them.

Purfleet is a town in the Thurrock unitary authority in Essex, England. It is bordered by the A13 road to the north and the River Thames to the south and is within the easternmost part of the M25 motorway but just outside the Greater London boundary.

As the investigations proceeded, law enforcement last night identified, raided, and searched two homes in Nothern Ireland suspected to be linked to the incident, British police said on Thursday. The driver of the truck in which the bodies were found has been identified as Mr. Mo Robinson, a 25 year-old man, and he is currently under arrest on suspicion of the murder of the 39 people. The young man is being held at an Essex police station, where security officers are still interrogating him in order to determine the circumstances of the blood-chilling and horrific incident.

The truck had arrived on Wednesday at the town of Purfleet, on the banks of the River Thames, from the Belgian town of Zeebrugge, where authorities have already begun investigations. “We have no idea at the moment how long the lorry spent in Belgium,” said a spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, Eric Van Duyse. “It could be hours or days. We just don’t know,” he added, in statements cited by British media.

Zeebrugge is a village on the coast of Belgium and a subdivision of Bruges, for which it is the modern port. Zeebrugge serves as both the international port of Bruges-Zeebrugge and a seafront resort with hotels, cafés, a marina and a beach.

However, other Belgian authorities cited by the BBC say that the preliminary results of the investigation show that the container in question arrived at Zeebrugge on October 22 at 2:49 pm, and left the port the same day during the afternoon to arrive in Purfleet on October 23 at 1:00 am.

The British National Crime Agency has indicated that it is working to identify “organized criminal groups that may have participated” in these events. British police said the truck’s cabin came from Northern Ireland and picked up the trailer with the container in Purfleet. Sources from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry have indicated that the trailer is reportedly registered in Bulgaria under the name of a company that belongs to an Irish citizen.

The local police department is now working to identify the victims of the unfortunate incident that has caused great worry and raised emotions in the country and in the rest of Europe. A similar tragedy took place almost 20 years ago, in the year 2000. Then, the bodies of 58 immigrants, also of Chinese nationality, were found inside a container in the port of Dover, the main point of connection of the United Kingdom with the Europe continent.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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