Three more arrested after 39 victims found in Essex truck container

By Bianca Britton, CNN

Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT) October 26, 2019
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5:18 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

China says identity of victims still being confirmed

From CNN's Lily Lee and Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 bodies were discovered in Essex.
Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 bodies were discovered in Essex. BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said the 39 bodies that were discovered in a refrigerated lorry in Essex have yet to be identified as Chinese at this time.

"The British police expressed that the identity of the victims is still being verified. It is not yet possible to confirm whether they were Chinese nationals," spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

"We hope that the British side will confirm the identity of the victims as soon as possible, find out the truth, and severely punish the criminals involved in the case."

The spokesperson added that consular officials from the Embassy in China are working closely with UK authorities and that British police are "still in the process of verification."

When asked by CNN about the possibility of Chinese citizens being illegally trafficked, the question was rebuffed by the spokesperson.

"Chinese people have gained an unprecedented level of gratefulness, safeness, fulfillment and happiness over the past, over the past seven decades," Hua replied.

"If you look around the globe you will find more and more foreign friends wishing to work, study and holiday in China even more they hope live in China for a long time, so I think this is not an appropriate question for you to raise here."

5:06 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

First victims transported to hospital for identification

From CNN’s Katie Polglase in London 

The first 11 victims who were found in a container truck on Wednesday were transported to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford -- about a 45-minute drive from where the truck was being held in a secure location -- where they are undergoing post-mortem examinations and identification, Essex Police said in a statement on Thursday. 

They added, “the process of victim recovery under the DVI (disaster victim identification) process is likely to take some time."

Police said it was "being done in liaison with HM Coroner and we continue to ensure the dignity of the victims is our primary consideration."

5:05 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

What we know about the Essex truck deaths

Getty Images
Getty Images

A murder investigation has been launched after 39 bodies were found in a container at the back of the truck, at an industrial park in Grays, Essex, on Wednesday.

Here's what we know about the investigation:

  • The suspect: On Wednesday, 25-year-old Northern Irish truck driver, Mo Robinson, was arrested on suspicion of murder. Police said Thursday that the suspect remained in custody and confirmed that three properties were searched in County Armagh.
  • Victims identified: All 39 people found dead inside the container are believed to be Chinese nationals, UK police said Thursday. The cause of death of the eight women and 31 men has yet to be established, Essex police said in a statement.
  • Chinese officials are en route: In a statement, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Chinese embassy staff had traveled to the scene "to verify relevant information." The Chinese embassy in Belgium has also "demanded" a "comprehensive investigation" by Belgian police, according to a statement. The embassy "attaches high importance to the report that bodies of 39 Chinese nationals were found in a truck in the UK," it wrote.
  • The container's origins: Police believe the container came from Belgium into England early Wednesday morning, while the truck that transported it is believed to have originated in Northern Ireland.