China Urges Quick Identification of UK Truck Victims

China Urges Quick Identification of UK Truck Victims
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

What you need to know

British police said they are undertaking the country's largest murder probe since 2005 to determine the identities and cause of death of 39 bodies believed to be Chinese migrants who were discovered in a truck.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing Friday in Beijing that Britain has not officially confirmed the identities or nationalities of 39 dead bodies believed to be Chinese migrants discovered Wednesday in Britain.

"The British police are still in the intensive process of verification and are still unable to confirm at this moment," Hua said.

Emergency workers discovered the bodies inside a refrigerated truck container at an industrial park in Grays in Essex, 20 miles (30 km) east of London on Wednesday morning.

On Friday, the Chinese Embassy in London said it had sent a team to Essex to meet with police and assist with the investigation.

'Largest' Murder Investigation Ever

Essex police said the autopsies for some of the victims began Friday, adding that the process of identifying victims and determining the exact cause of death would take some time.

"This is the largest investigation of its kind Essex Police has ever had to conduct and it is likely to take some considerable time to come to a conclusion," Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said.

"We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals."

On Thursday, Chinese state media Global Times tweeted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry "is confirming the news of 39 Chinese nationals allegedly found dead in an Essex lorry."

Essex police, immigration officials and Britain's National Crime Agency said the murder investigation is the largest in Britain since the 2005 London terror attacks that killed 52 people.

The investigation is focused on where the container was before it arrived at the industrial park in Grays. Police said the container traveled by ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to Purfleet, England.

The alleged truck driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder.

China Calls for Punishment

China on Friday also called for more international efforts to counter human trafficking.

"No matter where these victims came from, this is a great tragedy which has drawn the attention of the international community to the issue of illegal immigration," said Hua.

The Global Times published an editorial Friday calling for Europe and Britain to accept responsibility for the deaths.

"We hope that Britain and European countries will put their commitments to human rights into effect and make due efforts for Chinese people to be free from abuse and sudden death."

The editorial called on Britain to seek "severe punishment" for those involved in the deaths.

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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