39 Found Dead in Truck in U.K.
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39 Found Dead in Truck in U.K.

The driver was arrested on suspicion of murder, but many questions remained.VideoThe police in England have opened a murder investigation after 39 dead bodies were found in a truck on Wednesday. The police have yet to determine any of the victims’ identities.CreditCredit…Pool photoPublished Oct. 23, 2019Updated Oct. 30, 2019GRAYS, England — Who were they, where were they going, and where were they from. It was all a mystery.But one thing was heartbreakingly clear when the authorities peered into a container truck in a British industrial park early Wednesday morning: None of the 39 people inside were alive. Their bodies were found after someone — officials have not said who — called an ambulance and the police came to investigate.The passengers, all of whom save one teenager appeared to be adults, were declared dead at the scene. The driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.[Read: They Sought a Brighter Future in Britain. Instead, Their Families Are Mourning Them.]The authorities said they had more questions than answers, and warned of a long, complex investigation.This was far from the first time a truckload of bodies was found in Europe, and it appeared to have all the earmarks of human trafficking. There has been a trail of victims across Europe in recent years, people desperate to make new lives but losing them instead as they were smuggled in trucks, which are often tightly sealed.“This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives,” Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner of the Essex Police said in a statement. “Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened.”It could take a long time to identify the victims, given that they may not have been carrying documentation.But even gathering information about the truck in which they met their deaths, and the route it had followed before ending up at an industrial park east of London, proved less than straightforward.Initially, the police said they believed the truck had entered Britain at the port of Holyhead in Wales on Saturday. But they later established that only the Bulgarian-registered tractor — the front of the truck, with the driver’s cab and engine — had taken that route.The cargo trailer it was pulling entered Britain at Purfleet, a shipping port near Grays, shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and was met there by the driver, they said. The police believe the container in which the bodies were found came from Zeebrugge, in Belgium. ImageThe port in Holyhead, Wales on Saturday, where the cab of the truck is believed to have entered Britain.Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York TimesPippa Mills, deputy chief constable of the Essex Police, said investigators were in the “early stages of what is likely to be a lengthy investigation,” and appealed for information from the public. She described the truck as a “complex scene” that was being examined by experts.“This is an absolute tragedy and very sad day for Essex Police and the local community,” Deputy Chief Mills said at a news conference.The truck was found at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, about 25 miles east of London. Officers were called to the site shortly before 1:40 a.m.Ms. Mills said the police had been summoned by the local ambulance service, but she did not say who had alerted the ambulance service. While the circumstances that led to the deaths remained unclear, the trailer appeared to be temperature-controlled. Such containers are typically tightly sealed, said Dave Wood, a former director general of British immigration enforcement, creating a ris
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