Police have made a fourth arrest over the deaths of 39 people found dead in the back of a truck in Essex, east of London, amid speculation that some victims could be from Vietnam.
- A woman and two other men, including the driver, were arrested earlier this week
- No-one has been charged
- Authorities are working to identify the victims
Essex Police said a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of manslaughter.
Earlier on Friday a man and a woman, both aged 38, were arrested in Warrington, northern England.
The driver of the truck, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, remains in police custody having been arrested on suspicion of murder.
No charges have yet been laid.
As forensic experts began the process of identifying the victims, the Vietnamese embassy in London said families from the South-East Asian country had got in touch about missing relatives. There were growing concerns at least 10 of the victims could have been from Vietnam.
Hoa Nghiem from Human Rights Space, a civic network based in Vietnam, said that Pham Thi Tra My, 26, had sent a text message to her mother saying she could not breathe about the time the truck container was en route from Belgium to Britain.
“I’m sorry, Mum and Dad. My path abroad was not a success. I love you both so much. I can’t breathe. I’m from Nghen Town, Can Loc District, Ha Tinh, Vietnam … I am sorry, Mum,” the message said, according to Ms Hoa, who said that it had come from Ms Tra My’s family.
She said Ms Tra My had gone to China and was planning to reach England via France and that the organisation was getting more alerts about possible Vietnamese victims in the trunk.
Police have said they believe the dead were Chinese but Beijing said the nationalities had not yet been confirmed. Chinese and Vietnamese officials are now both working closely with British police, their respective embassies said.
The victims, 31 men and eight women, were found inside the back of a refrigerated trailer by ambulance crews at an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Deputy chief constable Pippa Mills said officers were continuing to work around the clock on the case that has shocked the UK and the world.
She said victims had begun being transported from a secure holding area at the Port of Tilbury to a mortuary at the nearby Broomfield Hospital, where formal identification and post-mortem examinations will take place.
“This process is likely to be a lengthy one, but it is crucial, and we’re working with Her Majesty’s Coroner to ensure the dignity of the victims and the respect for their loved ones is at the forefront of our investigation,” Detective Constable Mills said during a press conference on Friday evening (local time).
“I’m acutely aware of the international interest in this case and the appetite for information. We will provide more updates as and when we can.”
For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in trucks, often from the European mainland. In 2000, 58 Chinese people were found dead in a tomato truck at the port of Dover.
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