39 people have been found dead in a truck container in southeast England, UK police say

Sean Davies, (Basildon, England) Echo

LONDON – Police in southeastern England said that 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a truck container believed to have come from Bulgaria.

The truck, which is said to have entered the country Saturday, was found by ambulance workers at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays.

“This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our inquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened,” Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said. “We are in the process of identifying the victims, however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process.”

Police have closed access to and from the industrial park.

When did this happen?

Emergency services rushed to Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays at roughly 1:40 a.m. local time. Grays is about 20 miles east of London.

Have the bodies been identified? 

All 39 people found were pronounced dead at the scene. Early indications suggest 38 are adults and one is a teenager.

Is there a suspect?

A 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland who is the truck's driver has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He remains in custody.

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by this utterly tragic incident in Grays. Essex Police has arrested an individual and we must give them the space to conduct their investigations.”

How are politicians responding?

Amid ongoing Brexit negotiations, U.K. officials paused to respond to the incident. 

During a Parliament session, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that the perpetrators of the crime "should be hunted down and brought to justice."

“I’m appalled by this tragic incident in Essex,” he tweeted earlier in the day. “I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened. My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives & their loved ones.”

Jackie Doyle-Price, the member of Parliament representing Thurrock, where Grays is located, called the incident "evil."

"To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil. The best thing we can do in memory of those victims is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice," she said.

U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel called the incident "horrific."

"I think the whole House will agree this is truly a truly shocking incident. My thoughts and all thoughts and condolences are with the victims and their loved ones at this utterly terrible time," Patel said. 

She asked Home Office officials "to work closely with the investigation, providing all assistance we can."

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has pledged an investigation will be opened to establish whether the vehicle carrying the 39 people passed through Ireland.

Speaking in the Irish Parliament, Varadkar said, "The information that we have so far this morning is very sketchy but there are some reports that the truck may have passed through Ireland at some point."

Contributing: The Associated Press

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: England truck container found with 39 dead bodies: UK police