The horrific discovery was made in the early hours of this morning on an industrial estate. Early indications suggest 38 of the victims were adults and the other in their teens. It is understood that everyone inside the lorry was already dead and there was nothing that paramedics could do to save them. A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police said officers was called by the ambulance service shortly before 1.40am today following the discovery of a lorry container with people inside at Waterglade Industrial Park, Eastern Avenue, Grays. They said 39 people were pronounced dead at the scene.
Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said: “This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened.
”We are in the process of identifying the victims, however I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process.
“We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday 19 October and we are working closely with our partners to investigate.”
He continued: “We have arrested the lorry driver in connection with the incident who remains in police custody as our enquiries continue.
“I appreciate this cordon is going to disrupt the activity of local businesses in the area and we will work to ensure that disruption is kept as short as possible.
“We are working with Thurrock Council to mitigate against any impact our investigation scene will have locally.”
A cordon has been put in place and access to and from the Waterglade Industrial Park remains closed.
Witness Paige Wade was driving past the industrial estate at 4.15am on the way home from a late shift at work.
She said: “I had just finished work while driving up Motherwell Way and all you could see was blue flashing lights, as I was driving past there was police tape to cordon off the start of Eastern Avenue.
“I knew it was serious because of how many police cars and ambulances were there but the police had parked their cars across the whole access of the road so you couldn’t see anything.
“There’s always lorries around there as they park up there for the night.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “shocked and saddened” by the deaths.
She tweeted: “Shocked and saddened by this utterly tragic incident.
“Essex Police has arrested an individual and we must give them the space to conduct their investigations.”
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