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Screaming survivors in container alerted port workers

British port workers heard banging and screaming coming from inside a shipping container.

They were shocked to find one man dead and 34 other people, two in serious condition, when they opened the container on Saturday, police revealed.

Police also revealed that the people inside were believed to be of Indian origin and did not speak English.

“Staff here at the port became aware of screaming and banging coming from a container,” police superintendent Trevor Roe told reporters.

“As a result of that noise, staff were alerted and immediately breached the container to find 35 persons within that unit.

“We believe them to come from the Indian subcontinent.”

The men, women and children were discovered inside the container at Tilbury Docks, east of London, on a ship that came from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

All the survivors were taken to nearby hospitals; two were in a serious but not life-threatening condition, while the others were suffering from dehydration and hypothermia.

Cases of immigrants trying to enter Britain illegally, often in dangerous circumstances, are not rare.

Murder investigation

The local police have vowed to bring to justice anyone involved in putting the people in the container, while the local lawmaker said the authorities needed to understand what was motivating people to go to such lengths to reach Britain.

Because a body was found, Essex Police has launched a homicide investigation.

Of 64 containers aboard the P and O ship that arrived early Saturday, police have opened 30 so far to check for any other people.

Roe revealed that the survivors were recovering “fairly quickly in most cases” at nearby hospitals.

P and O Ferries said the container arrived on the quay in Zeebrugge around an hour before it was loaded onto the ferry. Two hours later, the ship began the eight-hour overnight crossing. The people were discovered on the ship’s arrival in Tilbury.

The firm’s Natalie Hardy said the commercial ferry was carrying 64 containers, 72 trailers and five trucks and drivers.

 

Humanitarian issue

Roe added: “This is a humanitarian issue and the welfare of these patients is a priority.”

Officials have faced a language barrier in their efforts to communicate with the survivors.

Roe said once the survivors are fit and well they will be formally interviewed through interpreters.

He said the police investigation would look into “the gangs or whoever may be involved in this conspiracy to bring these people in this way over to this country.

“Clearly we need to try to bring them to justice.”  - AFP

This is an update on an earlier report