One man has been found dead and 34 others still alive in a shipping container after staff at a British port heard screaming coming from inside.
The men, women and children, all believed to be from India, were discovered inside the container at Tilbury Docks, east of London, on a ship from the Belgian port of Zebrugge.
All the survivors were taken to nearby hospitals. Authorities say two were in a serious but not life-threatening condition, while the others were suffering dehydration and hypothermia.
Because a body was found, Essex police have launched a homicide investigation.
Of 50 containers aboard the P and O ship that arrived early on Saturday, officers have opened 30 so far to check for other people.
“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 dead man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
“It is a homicide investigation from the police point of view,” Roe said, but 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.”