Eight refugees dead in lorry

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The Independent Online

Irish police and Interpol are trying to trace the precise movements of 13 refugees found dead or "semi-comatose" in the back of a container lorry. The bodies of six men and two children, believed to be under the age of eight, were discovered yesterday morning crammed into a consignment of office furniture.

Irish police and Interpol are trying to trace the precise movements of 13 refugees found dead or "semi-comatose" in the back of a container lorry. The bodies of six men and two children, believed to be under the age of eight, were discovered yesterday morning crammed into a consignment of office furniture.

Five survivors – four men and a woman – were taken to hospital where they are "seriously ill". "They are semi-comatose and dehydrated," a hospital spokeswoman said.

The refugees were discovered when the driver of the lorry heard banging and shouting, and stopped. Police said he was confronted by "a nightmare of human misery" when he opened the container.

He had collected the container from Waterford, in south-east Ireland, yesterday morning and driven 30 miles to Wexford before discovering his human cargo.

Police say the container originated in Italy and travelled initially by train to the Belgium port of Zeebrugge. There it was loaded on to a ferry on 30 November and arrived in Ireland on Thursday.

Police and pathologists examined the scene but the bodies had still not been moved by yesterday afternoon. Post-mortems were due to be held last night. A police spokesman said an investigation was underway to trace the refugees' movements. It was possible they had paid a smuggling ring for their journey.

Supt John Farrelly indicated the refugees were Romanian, although their nationality has not been confirmed.

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