LONDON, UK - A 25-year old Northern Irish man has been arrested after a lorry container in Essex, 30 kilometres east of London, has been discovered with 39 bodies inside.
The Bulgarian-registered vehicle was found 01:40am at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, just near Essex, according to local law enforcement officers.
Essex Police moved the lorry to a secure location so the bodies inside could be retrieved.
The lorry driver, named locally as Mo Robinson, 25, from the Portadown area of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Police say they understand the ship transporting the contained sailed from Zeebrugge in Belgium, into Purfleet on the River Thames.
The container was found with the bodies of 38 adults and a teenager. There were no survivors.
Police have begun a process to identify the victims, one which will be lengthy and arduous.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association was quoted by the BBC as saying the container appeared to be a refrigerated unit, where temperatures could be as low as -25C.
He said conditions for anyone inside would be "absolutely horrendous."
"The Scania truck was registered in Varna (on the east coast) under the name of a company owned by an Irish citizen," he said, a spokesman for the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry said Wednesday.
"Police said that it is highly unlikely that they are Bulgarians," he added.
"I'm appalled by this tragic incident in Essex. I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet on Wednesday. "My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives & their loved ones."
"At this stage, we have not identified where the victims are from or their identities and we anticipate this could be a lengthy process," Essex Police Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said Wednesday.
"I appreciate how much attention this incident will continue to attract and the public and media appetite to understand what's happened. We also need to understand what has happened," Mills said.
(Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau | PA Wire`).