Britain grieves over lorry victims amid ongoing clarification efforts

In the Waterglade Industrial Park on the Eastern Avenue in Essex, a county some 30 km southeast of London, flower bouquets were resting quietly on Thursday on the pavement. The rain kept falling.

The tribute by the local residents to the 39 deceased found on Wednesday in a refrigerated lorry container offered a sense of warmth in the chilling British autumn day. With the national flag flying at half-mast in the small town of Grays on the north bank of Thames, Britain and beyond seemed to be weeping for the unfortunate.

According to British police, 39 bodies, reportedly Chinese, were found in a truck travelling to Britain from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The part of industrial park, where the truck was found, was cordoned off with police watching over the site and police cars patrolling the area.

Tong Xuejun, the minister counsellor for consular and overseas Chinese affairs from the Chinese embassy, told Xinhua at the site that he had met with the British police to seek further clarification and confirmation about the media reports.

“The police said that they are verifying the identity of the deceased, whose nationality still cannot be confirmed,” said the latest statement from the Chinese embassy.

Lana, a local resident working in a shopping mall in Grays, a town in Essex, said she was enormously saddened by the news.

“I cannot express my grief with words and I cannot imagine what they had gone through in the truck container,” she told Xinhua.

Earlier, police officers and councilors signed a book of condolence that was opened at Thurrock Council (the local authority) offices. A vigil was also held on Thursday evening outside the Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, in memory of the 39 victims who lost their lives in the tragic circumstances.

A murder investigation, described by the Essex Police as the largest in the force’s history, has been launched following the tragic discovery of the bodies of eight women and 31 men in the trailer of a lorry shortly before 1:40 a.m. (0040 GMT) on Wednesday.

A statement from the Essex Police said that detectives investigating the incident have “secured a warrant of further detention” for the lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland. -Xinhua

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