London, Oct 25 (AFP/APP): Investigators prepared Friday to start the first autopsies on the bodies of 39 people believed to be Chinese nationals found dead in a refrigerated truck, in a case that has shocked Britain.
The first 11 corpses were recovered from the trailer on Thursday and taken to a nearby hospital. Post-mortem examinations will attempt to establish how the victims died.
Ambulances had been called to a parked-up truck in an industrial zone in Grays, east of London, early Wednesday but all 39 victims inside were already dead.
The refrigerated trailer had arrived at nearby Purfleet on the River Thames estuary on a ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge just over an hour before ambulance crews called the police at 1:40 am.
The truck which collected the trailer had left the port 35 minutes before that call.
Detectives arrested the truck driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, on suspicion of murder. They were continuing to question him on Friday.
Police said they believed all the victims — eight women and 31 men — were Chinese nationals.
“The process of victim recovery under the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process is likely to take some time,” Essex Police said.
“The next stages will be for post-mortem examinations to be carried out.”
The internationally-standard DVI process is being carried out in liaison with the local coroner, the official responsible for establishing the cause of death.
Detectives have also searched three addresses in Northern Ireland.