today's Pick
Screaming survivors found in container at UK port
Publish Date: Aug 16, 2014
Screaming survivors found in container at UK port
Containers are moved at Tilbury Docks, east of London on August 16, 2014, where one man was found dead and 19 people, including seven children, were taken to hospital on Saturday after they were discovered inside a shipping container. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img

TILBURY - One man was found dead and 34 others still alive in a shipping container on Saturday after staff at a British port heard banging and screaming coming from inside.

The men, women and children, all believed to be from the Indian subcontinent, 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.

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.

"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."

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.

Desperate to get into the UK

The dead man was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency medics in Tilbury.

"It is a homicide investigation from the police point of view," Roe said, though there was no suggestion anyone inside the container was a suspect.

He 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."

Stephen Metcalfe, the local Member of Parliament, said the incident was "tragic".

"The fact that so many people appear to have travelled so far and are so desperate to get into the UK -- either on their own or being trafficked -- is really very sad," he told the BBC.

He said it was important "to get to the root causes of what is motivating people to go to such extreme lengths to travel from other parts of the world to get into the UK" and combat people-trafficking.

The BBC quoted the UK Border Force as saying that in 2012-13, more than 11,000 attempts to cross the English Channel illegally were prevented at "juxtaposed controls".

In 2000, 58 Chinese illegal immigrants suffocated to death after the air vent to their sealed container on a truck was closed on their way to the southern English port of Dover.

In July last year, British police arrested two people after 15 asylum seekers were found hidden in a tanker on board a ferry at Dover.

Earlier this month, 16 men, all thought to be from Ethiopia, were found in a refrigerated unit in a truck outside London. They were arrested on suspicion of entering the country illegally.

And in June, eight suspected illegal immigrants, all Afghan nationals, were rescued from the English Channel when their small boat lost power.



The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
North will be Uganda
President Yoweri Museveni has announced plans to transform northern Uganda into the country's industrial hub to accelerate development in the region that is recovering from the 20-year Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency....
Bukenya makes U-turn, supports Museveni
The opposition has suffered major setback after former Vice President, Gilbert Bukenya announced he would support President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in the forthcoming 2016 elections....
Museveni receives UNRA probe report
President Yoweri Museveni has commended the tremendous work done by members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Uganda National Roads’ Authority (UNRA)....
VISION Group has launched a digital version that will allow readers enjoy the digital copies of daily, weekly and regional publications anytime, anywhere...
Otafiire challenger arrested over alleged forgery
Retired captain, Mugabe Dononzio Kahonda, Member of Parliament (MP) aspirant for Ruhinda County, Mitooma district has been arrested over alleged forgery of academic papers....
In pictures: National prayer breakfast
Pictures from the 17th annual national prayer breakfast attended by Kenyan deputy president William Ruto....
Should Makerere University fees policy be reviewed?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter