Belgian prosecutors and officials at the port of Zeebrugge have launched an investigation.
The lorry trailer with the bodies was at an industrial site in Grays (Essex) when the emergency services were called. English police are now trying to identify the victims, 31 men and 8 women, believed to be Chinese nationals. It’s understood the trailer arrived in England via the port of Purfleet in Essex. Purfleet is a small port that only welcomes ferries from Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. The lorry itself came from Ulster. The driver has been arrested and faces murder charges.
UK media are suggesting that the victims either died due to hypothermia or suffocation. The trailer was a refrigerated trailer where temperatures can fall to minus 25°C. It originated in Bulgaria, but authorities there believe it’s highly unlikely the victims went on board there. Mayor Dirk De fauw, who doubles as chair of the port of Zeebrugge, believes it’s highly unlikely the victims got into the trailer in the port itself.
“Each trailer is systematically checked to look for outward signs of damage. Then it is sealed. Trailers are filmed until they are on the ferry. In the terminals too there are cameras. Breaking the seal, putting 39 people in a trailer and resealing the trailer without anybody noticing is virtually impossible.”