Police and ambulance teams were called to the site of a horrific discovery at an industrial park in Essex, England on Wednesday October 23, 2019. A driver opened the container of his lorry and discovered the dead bodies of 38 adults and 1 teenager.
The lorry driver has been identified as Mo Robinson (25). Robinson has been arrested on suspicion of murder and police are currently trying to establish if he knew about the people in the lorry or if he had no idea what he was carrying.
Initially police said the lorry had entered the UK via Holyhead in north Wales. They later backtracked and said the trailer – the rear section of the vehicle, containing the bodies – travelled from Zeebrugge, Belgium into Purfleet, Essex, and docked in the Thurrock area shortly after 12.30am.
This image from The Guardian shows the route of the container:
It is the worst incident of its kind in the UK since the bodies of 58 Chinese people were found in a container in Dover, Kent, in 2000.
British home secretary, Priti Patel, said Home Office immigration officials were working closely with the police to establish what had happened.
Patel appeared before the home affairs select committee on Wednesday afternoon and signalled that she was willing to consider tougher sentences for human traffickers and people smugglers.
The independent MP John Woodcock asked if Patel would commit to reviewing sentencing guidelines for human trafficking.
She replied: “What we have seen basically through the actions of these traffickers is the worst of humanity and it is right that we use our law enforcement and all aspects of the law through existing legislation to make sure that justice is served and that the perpetrators are prosecuted.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex police as we establish exactly what has happened.”