Tilbury Docks: Homicide probe into man's death as 35 'people trafficking victims' found in shipping container

Port staff heard "screaming and banging" coming from a container

Police have launched a homicide investigation into a man's death after 35 adults and children were discovered in a container at Tilbury Docks in Essex.

Survivors are being treated at local hospitals for severe dehydration and hypothermia. No-one is understood to be in a life threatening condition, Essex Police said.

At a press conference after the incident, superintendent Trevor Roe confirmed the death of the man is being treated as a homicide investigation. He said checks are underway on the 50 containers on the P&O vessel, with nearly 30 having been searched so far.

He said: "All we know at the moment is that we believe them to come from the Indian subcontinent, but it is still early days.

"It is a homicide investigation from the police point of view at this time."

Police were called after the people were found on the container, which arrived on a ship from Zeebrugge in Belgium and was being unloaded at 7.35am by Port of Tilbury authorities.

Superintendent Roe said that crews were alerted to the people inside when they heard "kicking and screaming". Describing them as victims of "people trafficking", Mr Roe said they had been in the container a "significant amount of time" and that now police were working with international agencies to establish their movements prior to arriving in the UK.

An ambulance van drives into Tilbury Docks in Essex An ambulance van drives into Tilbury Docks in Essex The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said in a statement: “We confirm that 35 patients were involved in the incident at Tilbury Docks, Essex; one patient has sadly been declared deceased at the scene, with others suffering from severe dehydration and hypothermia.

"After initial treatment by ambulance crews, all patients have now been conveyed to surrounding hospitals for further care; seven have been taken to Southend Hospital, nine to London Whitechapel Hospital and 18 to Basildon Hospital."

Natalie Hardy, from P&O Ferries, said the immigrants were in a container on board the Norstream, a commercial vessel which carries freight between Zeebrugge and Tilbury.

Ms Hardy said: "They (port authorities) found 35 on a container in the ferry. They had been in there overnight, because the ship was an overnight freight ferry.

"This morning when they went to unload containers there was a noise heard, a banging. One unfortunately was dead and others were taken to hospital.

Policemen stand guard at an entrance to Tilbury Docks Policemen stand guard at an entrance to Tilbury Docks "UK Border Agency and all emergency services were called and went to the scene and have been handling it since."

Public Health England said it is not involved at this point and had not been notified of there being any Ebola risk.

The spokeswoman added: "If it was Ebola, health care professionals are so alert at the moment to signs and symptoms that should there have been anyone who was showing symptoms we would have been notified immediately.

"I think we can be confident that we are not dealing with that."

A spokesman for Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, said it was "currently on standby to receive cases".

Police are dealing with the incident alongside staff from Port of Tilbury, UK Border Force and the East of England Ambulance Service, the spokesman said, while a casualty bureau is being set up.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there