Dead body and 34 stowaways found crammed in container at British port

Police suspect homicide in death of one person in a group of stowaways believed to have come from India

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 10:04pm

A dead man and at least 34 survivors, including women and children, have been found inside a shipping container in Britain, emergency officials say.

The people, who were in poor health, were found packed inside the container as workers were unloading the cargo at Tilbury docks in Essex, east of London, on Saturday morning, police said.

Officials reported hearing bangs and screams coming from the container, which arrived aboard a P&O cargo vessel from Zeebrugge, Belgium.

Earlier reports said there were seven children among the stowaways.

Police say they have yet to identify the dead man but suspect that many of those hiding in the container are from India.

Paramedics and other emergency officials treated the stowaways for hypothermia and dehydration. The survivors were transferred to three hospitals.

“One man has sadly died and the others have significant health problems. They are being treated by ambulance crews and are being taken to local hospitals,” an Essex Police spokesman said.

Essex county police superintendent Trevor Rowe says detectives are liaising with Belgian police and treating the man’s death as homicide.

Tilbury, on the River Thames, is primarily a bulk cargo and container port and not such a prime target for illegal immigrants as those on the south coast, such as Dover.

Essex police said they had started an investigation and were working with immigration and health authorities.

The East of England Ambulance service confirmed a hazardous area response team had been sent, including seven ambulances.

“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of any injuries, and ensure that those people in most need are treated first and taken to hospital,” a statement said.

AP, AFP and Reuters