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Human Trafficking

Tragic discovery as 39 people found dead in lorry

24 October 2019

The front pages of several newspapers this morning ran with the awful story of 39 bodies found in a lorry in Essex in what could be a case of human trafficking.

Today it emerged that the victims are understood to be Chinese nationals.

In a statement released yesterday, the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton said:

“I am gravely concerned about this shocking discovery. My thoughts are with the friends and families of all those affected.

“This incident highlights the need to do everything we can to prevent people traffickers from continuing their deadly trade.”

Ambulance staff discovered the bodies of the 38 adults and one teenager in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays just after 01:30 BST on Wednesday.

A 25yo man from Portadown in Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder by Essex Police.

The trailer arrived from Zeebrugge, Belgium into Purfleet on the River Thames and the ship docked in the Thurrock area shortly after 00:30.

It is thought that the lorry left the port about 35 minutes later.

Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association said the trailer appeared to be a refrigerated unit, which means possibly temperatures as low as -25C.

CARE’s Communications Manager, James Mildred said: “This is a heart-breaking story and a tragic reminder of the evils of people smuggling.

“Our thoughts go out to the families and all those involved.

“Let’s hope the truth is found and justice is then delivered.”


Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the greatest violations of human dignity. We are fighting for effective laws that will help victims get better support.

Find out more about the cause

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