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British police find 39 bodies in trucking container

British police (Krokodyl/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A transport container with 39 bodies that was found by British police in southeastern England is suspected to have come on a truck from Bulgaria.

British police said on October 23 that a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland who drove the vehicle has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The bodies — 38 adults and one teenager — were found in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park about 32 kilometers from London.

Police said they have not yet identified the victims or established where they came from.

Andrew Mariner, an Essex police chief superintendent, told reporters that the truck is believed to have entered Britain on October 19 via the Welsh port of Holyhead, a major entry point for traffic from Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said investigations would be undertaken to establish if the lorry had passed through his country.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian authorities said it had not yet been confirmed whether the truck had a Bulgarian registration or whether the truck had started its journey from Bulgaria.

“We are in contact with our embassy in London and with British authorities,” a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

British authorities did not detail how many of the victims were men or women.

Essex Police Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said that identifying the dead “could be a lengthy process.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers that the incident was an “unimaginable tragedy and truly heartbreaking.”

For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in the back of trucks or in containers.

In 2000, British customs officials found 58 Chinese people suffocated to death in a lorry at the southern port of Dover.