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Essex lorry deaths: Families notified as police identify all 39 victims found near Dartford Crossing

The 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a refrigerated lorry have now been formally identified.

Bodies of the victims were located inside a trailer which travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Grays, Essex, near the Dartford Crossing on Wednesday, October 23.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP
Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP

Essex Police said a series of files have been brought before an Identification Commission.

Senior coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray said the families of those victims have been notified.

“May I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to the victims’ families," she said.

The senior officer in charge of the enquiry, assistant chief constable Tim Smith said: “This is an important step in the investigation and enables us to work with our Vietnamese Police colleagues to support the families of those victims.

"It is only right that we provide an opportunity for family members to take in the news confirming the death of their loved ones before releasing any further information. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those whose tragic journey ended on our shores.”

Two Northern Irish men have been charged after the bodies were found near the Crossing.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP
Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP

Maurice 'Mo' Robinson, 25, from Craigavon was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic people and assist unlawful immigration.

He drove the lorry into Essex and is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday, November 25

Eamon Harrison, 22, from Mayobridge, County Down, appeared in court on Friday also charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

He is believed to have delivered the lorry container to Zeebrugge and is accused of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The incident has lead to some MPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee calling on the Government to rethink its approach to legal immigration.

Tonbridge and Malling's Tom Tugendhat, who is chairman of the committee, said it was a "wake up call".

MP Tom Tugendhat speaking during the debate. Picture: Parliament TV
MP Tom Tugendhat speaking during the debate. Picture: Parliament TV

“The case of 39 people found dead in a lorry in Essex shocked us all. Hundreds of families across the world are losing loved ones who felt driven to take the fatal gamble to entrust their lives to smugglers," he said.

“The UK has been relatively isolated from the different migrant crises in recent years – but it’s wrong to assume that we are protected from their impact."

Eight more people have been arrested in Vietnam.

The extra arrests, reported by the Vietnam News Agency, comes after Essex Police confirmed they had spoken to one of two suspects, who are on the run, over the phone.

Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from Armagh in Northern Ireland, are being hunted by police on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking and are thought to have links to the Irish Republic.

During a press conference on Friday Detective chief inspector Daniel Stoten said: "Today I want to make a direct appeal. Ronan and Christopher hand yourself in to police. We need you both to come forward and assist us with this investigation.

If you have any information about the case contact police on101 or online at: https://mipp.police.uk.

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