Emergency officials said a dead man and 35 survivors, including women and children, have been found inside a shipping container being unloaded in eastern England.
They were found inside the container at Tilbury Docks in Essex, east of London on Saturday.
Workers at the Tilbury docks, the main port for London east of the British capital, made the discovery on board a P&O cargo vessel that had arrived from Zeebrugge port in Belgium. Officials reported hearing banging sounds.
“One man has sadly died and the others have significant health problems. They are being treated by ambulance crews and are being taken to local hospitals,” an Essex Police spokesman said.
The East of England Ambulance Service said it sent seven ambulances and other emergency teams to treat the immigrants for hypothermia and dehydration. The 35 survivors were transferred to three hospitals.
Essex police said that for the time being they were treating the incident as a homicide investigation.
“As a result of the ferry docking, staff at the port became aware of screaming and banging coming from the container,” Superintendent Trevor Roe told reporters.
An East of England Ambulance spokesman added: “It was a very difficult scene for our first crews there.”
Port staff were busy searching other containers from the ferry in case there were more people inside.
No further details were immediately available of how long the group had been inside the container or where they had entered it.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of any injuries, and ensure that those people in most need are treated first and taken to hospital,” a statement said.
Tilbury, on the River Thames, is primarily a bulk cargo and container port and not such a prime target for immigrants as those on the south coast, such as Dover.
Essex police said they had started an investigation and were working with immigration and health authorities.
They have yet to identify the dead man but suspect that many of those hiding in the container are from India.
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