Thirty nine bodies have been found in a container in Thurrock in Essex, police said.
Essex Police said it was called by the ambulance service shortly before 1.40am on Wednesday following the discovery of a lorry container with people inside at Waterglade Industrial Park, Eastern Avenue, Grays.
Some 39 people were pronounced dead at the scene. Early indications suggest 38 are adults and one aged in their teens, police said.
A 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
We were called by colleagues from the ambulance service shortly before 1.40am this morning Wednesday 23 October…
Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said: “This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened.
“We are in the process of identifying the victims, however I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process.
“We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday 19 October and we are working closely with our partners to investigate.
“We have arrested the lorry driver in connection with the incident who remains in police custody as our enquiries continue. I appreciate this cordon is going to disrupt the activity of local businesses in the area and we will work to ensure that disruption is kept as short as possible. We are working with Thurrock Council to mitigate against any impact our investigation scene will have locally.”
Shocked & saddened by this utterly tragic incident in Grays. Essex Police has arrested an individual and we must give them the space to conduct their investigations.
— Priti Patel MP (@patel4witham) October 23, 2019
Glen Freeland, from GSF Car Parts which is close to where the bodies were found, said staff could not access the shop on Eastern Avenue on Wednesday morning.
“The manager went to get into work this morning and it was cordoned off and we’ve been moved to a different area,” Mr Freeland said.
“All we know is they found the bodies in the back of a lorry.
“It was a bit of a shock but we’re not 100 per cent sure of what’s happened.”
A restaurant worker in the industrial estate, who did not want to be named, said the area was cordoned off by police on Wednesday morning.
“There’s a lot of police and forensics,” the Big Blue Food Bus employee told the PA news agency.
“We’ve just seen what has been said online. It’s awful.
“We thought maybe someone had broken into a lorry, but it’s just awful.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I’m appalled by this tragic incident in Essex.
“I am receiving regular updates and the Home Office will work closely with Essex Police as we establish exactly what has happened.
“My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives & their loved ones.”