The 39 people found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex were Chinese nationals.
The lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25 is still being questioned on suspicion of murdering the eight women and 31 men. Mr Robinson’s home in Laurelvale in County Armagh has been raided. As well as two other properties in Northern Ireland he has connections with.
His local community is said to be in “complete shock.”
“The local community is hoping that he [Mo Robinson] has been caught up innocently in this matter but it’s in the hands of Essex Police, and we will leave it in their professional hands to try to catch the perpetrators of this,” said councillor Paul Berry.
As well as officers raiding the three properties, the National Crime Agency said it was working to identify “organised crime groups who may have played a part.”
The Essex Lorry Deaths
The trailer arrived in Purfleet on the River Thames from Zeebrugge in Belgium. And left the port with the lorry shortly after 01:05.
It has been reported Mo Robinson went to get paperwork from the back of the lorry when he discovered the bodies. And called 999 immediately.
Ambulance staff discovered the bodies in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays just after 01:30 BST on Wednesday.
Police said the tractor unit – the front part of the lorry – entered the county via Holyhead in Wales on Sunday, having travelled from Dublin.
The lorry was moved to a secure site at Tilbury Docks so investigations could be “conducted in peace” and to give the “utmost dignity to those within the trailer.”
It has been said temperatures in refrigerated trailers could be as low as -25C. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association described conditions inside as “absolutely horrendous.”
Essex Police say it is the largest murder investigation in the force’s history. And formal identification of the 39 people “could be a lengthy process.”
A spokesman for the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry said the truck was registered in the country under the name of a company owned by an Irish citizen.
St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Grays has been opened for people to light candles and say prayers until 14:00.
And a vigil is also being held at 18:00 outside the Home Office to “call for urgent action to ensure safe passage” for people fleeing war and poverty.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was an “unimaginable tragedy and truly heartbreaking.”
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