39 people, including teen girl, found dead in back of truck may have died in sub-zero temperatures: Report

The 39 people found dead in the trailer of a truck in England on Wednesday were Chinese nationals, and one of the victims was a teenage girl.

Citing police sources, ABC News reports that all 39 people found dead in the trailer in Essex early Wednesday morning are believed to be Chinese nationals. Among the victims were eight women, including one teenager, and 31 men.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, believed to have driven the truck, was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday. Emergency services responded to the scene in the Essex town of Grays at about 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday. All of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene and each will undergo a thorough post-mortem examination, according to the report.

Police provided ABC News with further details about the path of the truck’s tractor and trailer. The tractor had reportedly arrived from Dublin to the port town of Purfefleet, England; and the trailer arrived from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Purfeleet at about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday. There, the trailer was attached to the tractor and the truck drove to the industrial park in Grays.

“The investigation will focus on the organizers of and all other parties involved in this transport,” the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement. “It is not yet clear when the victims were placed in the container and whether this happened in Belgium.”

Richard Burnett, the Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, told ABC News that the trailer may have been refrigerated, which could have brought the temperatures inside the trailer to as low as  -13 F.

Authorities have launched a homicide investigation, and reports have indicated that the victims may have been migrants who were smuggled into England. The National Crime Agency (NCA) has joined the investigation and said in a statement on Twitter that the agency is “working with partners including  @EssexPoliceUK and Immigration Enforcement to provide specialist support to urgently identify and take action against any organised crime groups who have played a role in causing these deaths.”

This is a developing story. CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.

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[Feature image: AP Photo/Alastair Grant]