Migrants found alive in refrigerated lorry in Belgium

Discovery in Antwerp comes six days after bodies of 39 people found in lorry in Essex

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 30 October 2019 17:27 GMT
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The people were discovered at a port near Antwerp
The people were discovered at a port near Antwerp (Getty)

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Update: Essex police have confirmed that no further action will be taken against Christopher Hughes

Less than a week after 39 bodies were found in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Essex, 12 migrants have been found alive in the back of a refrigerated lorry at a port in Belgium.

Local media reported a group of men had crawled into the back of the vehicle near Antwerp on Tuesday, prompting the driver to contact police.

A spokesperson for the Belgian federal police said traffic officers had then checked the lorry, which was carrying fruit and vegetables, and found 11 Syrians and one Sudanese man, PA reports.

They were taken to a police office in Antwerp and are now being dealt with by immigration officials.

The discovery comes amid heightened concerns over people smuggling into the UK, following the discovery of the 39 bodies in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Grays, Essex last Wednesday.

It is not yet known when the 39 victims entered the trailer, but it arrived at Zeebrugge in Belgium on 22 October, and reached Purfleet in Essex at around 12.30am the following day.

Just over an hour later, police were called to the Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in Grays where the bodies of 31 men and eight women had been discovered.

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Essex Police are also looking for Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from Armagh in Northern Ireland, who are suspected of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Police have said they believe the brothers are in Northern Ireland, but said they also used a business address in the Republic of Ireland.

The discovery of the group of 12 migrants also comes as a further 28 people were arrested in Antwerp in the early hours of Tuesday morning, amid a clampdown on illegal immigration and people trafficking.

Of the 28, one is from Ethiopia, seven are from Sudan and 10 are from Eritrea. Of the group, 11 of them said they are minors, The Brussels Times reports.

Additional reporting by PA

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