35 stowaways are Sikhs from Afghanistan: UK Police

Aug 17 2014, 21:02 IST
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SummaryA group of 35 men, women and children found inside a shipping container at a UK port are understood...

A group of 35 men, women and children found inside a shipping container at a UK port are understood to be Sikhs from Afghanistan who are victims of "people trafficking", British police said today.

They were discovered yesterday after a freighter arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex from Belgium.

One man was found dead and the others were taken to hospital to be treated for severe dehydration and hypothermia.

The 35 people found inside the container are understood to be Sikhs from Afghanistan, Essex Police said.

Earlier, the police described them as people believed to be from the Indian sub-continent and questioned some of them.

A homicide investigation is continuing into the death of the one person.

After they were treated for severe dehydration and hypothermia, they were taken to a detention centre.

Thirty have now been released into the care of police and Border Force staff. Four remain at Southend Hospital. It is thought they will be discharged later.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out on the body of the deceased and the container forensically examined.

They are being held under UK immigration laws and it is expected they will be interviewed through interpreters at the immigration centre near Tilbury.

Essex Police described the men, women and children as victims of "people trafficking" and are working with Interpol and other international authorities to try to establish what happened.

Many of the survivors spent the night in hospital but none is thought to have suffered serious injury.

One man is believed to have been questioned by officers already.

India's Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed being in contact with UK authorities to ascertain their nationality.

The discovery was made after the container arrived from the Belgian village of Zeebrugge early on Saturday morning when "screaming and banging" were heard coming from inside.

"It is a homicide investigation...we will be looking to see where the origin and 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 and bring them to justice," Supt Trevor Roe of Essex Police told reporters.

"The welfare and health of the people is our priority at this stage. Now they are well enough, our officers and colleagues from the Border Force will be speaking to them via interpreters so we can piece together what happened and how they came to

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