24 Oct 2019

39 bodies found in lorry in Essex confirmed to be Chinese nationals

Senior Home Affairs Correspondent

It’s all about the lure of the snakehead – the Chinese term for human smuggling syndicates which seek to transport migrants halfway across the world for profit.

They are undoubtedly behind this latest tragedy.

Essex Police say the 39 people who died in the refrigerated trailer were all Chinese nationals, eight women and 31 men.

There are many similarities with what happened 19 years ago. Then, 58 people were found dead behind cartons of tomatoes in a refrigerated truck.

It took almost a year to identify them all. Many relatives then were too scared of their own UK immigration status to come forward.

Community representatives had to negotiate with both the police and the Home Office for guarantees.

Already with today’s deaths, some advisers have begun reaching out to communities here to try to encourage families to come forward.

This will not be easy.

The same hurdles are just as evident. Identifying those in the truck will not be easy, and if what happened in 2000 is anything to go by, then it’s very likely none will have been carrying identification papers, only perhaps the phone number of someone they had been told to contact before embarking on this fateful journey.