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Essex lorry deaths: Arrests made in Vietnam after 39 migrants found in lorry near Dartford Crossing

Three more arrests have been made after the deaths of 39 migrants found in a lorry.

Two of the arrests were made in Vietnam, while a third person has appeared in court in Dublin following the incident.

39 people were found dead in a lorry container in Essex (20620369)
39 people were found dead in a lorry container in Essex (20620369)

Eamon Harrison, 22, from Mayobridge, County Down, has been charged with manslaughter.

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

It comes hours after police investigating the deaths confirmed they have spoken to one of two suspects, who are on the run, over the phone.

Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, are being hunted by police on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking after the bodies were found near the the Dartford Crossing.

The brothers, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, have links to the Irish Republic.

Police are looking for Ronan Hughes, left, and his brother Christoper Hughes, right. Picture: Essex Police
Police are looking for Ronan Hughes, left, and his brother Christoper Hughes, right. Picture: Essex Police

During a press conference this morning Essex Police confirmed they spoke to one of the brothers over the phone.

The force also revealed they stopped a vehicle they thought was connected to the Hughes'.

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."

"I would like to thank all those from communities in Northern Ireland and Ireland, along with those in the road haulage and shipping industries, who have come forward to share information and knowledge with us. You help has been invaluable.

"We know that you are as appalled as the rest of the world following the deaths of 39 people, whose bodies were found in a container which travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Grays in Essex last week.

"Finding Ronan and Christopher Hughes is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen, the sooner we can get on with our enquires and bring those responsible for these tragic deaths to justice.

"You may think your information is insignificant but even the smallest detail could be vital.

MPs speak in Parliament about the discovery of the 39 migrants

"Again I would like to express my thanks to all those who have already come forward and provided us with information.

Yesterday the police service of Northern Ireland acting on information stopped a lorry believed to be connected to the Hughes' brother, the vehicle was subsequently seized and no further arrests were made.

Police in Vietnam have arrested two people and summoned others for questioning on suspicion of involvement in the deaths of the 39 migrants, Reuters reporters.

This evening assistant chief constable Tim Smith said: "Essex Police is continuing to work closely with HM Senior Coroner and the National Crime Agency to progress the investigation and help identify the victims.

"At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals, and we are in contact with the Vietnamese government.

"We are in direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK, and we believe we have identified families for some of the victims whose journey ended in tragedy on our shores.

Maurice Robinson was charged last month
Maurice Robinson was charged last month

"The confirmatory evidence needed to formally present cases to HM Senior Coroner for her consideration has not yet been obtained.

"This evidence is being gathered across a number of jurisdictions worldwide.

"As a result, we cannot at this time announce the identity of any of the victims."

Earlier this week Det Chf Supt Stuart Hooper, who is leading the investigation, said: “If you know where they are or have any information about their whereabouts I need you to call my team.

“This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice.

“You may think the piece of information might be insignificant but even the smallest detail could be vital so please contact my officers on 101 or online at: https://mipp.police.uk.

“I appreciate you may not want to speak to the police so you can also contact Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Maurice 'Mo' Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering and is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on November 25.

Three other people arrested – a 38 year-old man, a 38 year-old woman, and a 46 year-old man – have all been released on bail until November.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Essex (20620372)
Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Essex (20620372)

Police confirmed over the weekend all 39 victims found in the lorry have now been moved from Tilbury Docks to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

The process to identify them and where they are from is continuing.

Officers say it is the largest mass fatality victim identification process in the history of Essex Police.

The bodies are being identified where possible, by at least one of the primary identification methods which are dental comparison, fingerprints, and DNA.

Other, secondary, identification features are also taken into consideration, such as tattoos and scars.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP (19984662)
Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP (19984662)

Police said each of the 39 victims appears to have been carrying a bag that contained clothes, and other belongings.

They say more than 500 items of importance, including mobile phones, have been recovered from lorry.

Senior Identification manager, detective chief inspector Martin Pasmore, said: "We are working hard to understand how the 39 victims of this tragic incident have died and to identify all those involved.

“We remain open minded as to nationalities of those who have died.

"If you come to us, we will do all we can to put our arm around you and take you through this process, and establish as quickly as possible whether or not we have your loved involved in this tragic incident, and try and reunite you.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP (19984664)
Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Thurrock, Essex Picture: UKNIP (19984664)

"It may well be people are here illegally and they want to come forward with information or concerns, particularly if they believe their loved one is involved.

"We understand some people may be frightened but I hope people will put trust in me and make that leap of faith – Essex Police will not look to take any action against you."

Detectives earlier said the 31 of the migrants were men and eight were women.

They were initially thought to have all been Chinese, but other nationalities could have also been victims.

The development means the horrific case echoes even more with the death of 58 Chinese migrants, found in the back of a lorry at Dover in 2000.

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford

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