Tilbury dock deaths: Survivors told translator they had been stowed away for 18 hours

Afghan Sikh found dead inside container named as Meet Singh Kapoor

A group of Afghani Sikhs who were rescued from a shipping container on Saturday have told a translator that they believe they were trapped inside the stifling, pitch-black box for 18 hours.

The shocking details of their ordeal came as police named the the Afghani man who was found dead inside the cargo container at Tilbury Docks as 40-year-old Meet Singh Kapoor.

35 people, including thirteen children aged as young as one, were among the Afghan Sikhs rescued on the weekend, having travelled from Belgium.

The group have since finished speaking to police and are being cared for by Home Office officials, Essex Police said. They are also now in the process of applying for asylum, according to a Home Office spokesman.

Video: Footage from the container found at Tilbury  

On Monday evening, two adults and two children were the four remaining people to be released from a  Southend Hospital .

Inquiries into Mr Kapoor’s death will now continue after a post-mortem examination was inconclusive.

Footage obtained by ITV News allegedly shows members of the group after they were released from the container. The sound of wailing and shouting can be heard as some of the migrants sit on the container floor.

Superintendent Trevor Roe said: “Tragically, one man died on the voyage and the investigation into his death is now being led by us.

"These people were found in an awful situation and our main priority is to look after them and ensure they are now safe following what would have been a horrendous ordeal.

"We have had a good deal of help from partners within the local Sikh community in the Tilbury area to ensure that these poor people, who would have been through a horrific ordeal, are supported in terms of their religious and clothing needs."

Read more: The tragic tale of Tilbury's migrants exposes the hopelessness of our immigration system
Lessons from Tilbury: How to change conditions in which people-smuggling can thrive  

Kamaljit Singh Mataharu, a translator used by police, told ITV News that the group believed they would have died if they remained trapped for another 30 minutes.

"It was pitch black, without any air. It soon became extremely uncomfortable," he said.

Mr Mataharu described how there were 15 families, all from the Afghan capital of Kabul, packed into the container after they had travelled to Europe in a lorry. He added that they had told him they had been stowed inside the container for 18 hours.

"A little boy just said to me that he tried to wake his dad, but his dad didn't respond, and then they found out he was dead," he said.

"I normally never cry [during translation work], but looking at these kids, how desperate they would have been to put their lives in such a state," he added.

Essex Police said the group included nine men and eight women aged between 18 and 72, as well as 13 children aged between one and 12.

Earlier, Belgian police officers had indicated that they believe the immigrants were probably already inside when the container was delivered to a European port before setting sail for Britain.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: “It is a disgrace the persecution of the tiny minority of Sikhs from Afghanistan has largely been ignored and it takes an incident like this to remind us all that they are also being exploited by human traffickers.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK takes its international obligations extremely seriously and has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it.”

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road