Nothing looked out of place on the docks but the sounds alerted the dock workers that something was very wrong. The desperate sounds coming from 35 stowaways screaming, kicking and banging, after being locked in a shipping container for the past nine-days were horrendous, as CNN News describes in an article on Aug. 17.
When the container was open, 35 of the stowaways were conscious, but not in good health and one adult male was dead. Men, women and children were inside the dark container and no one knows where their journey originated.
While they know the port that the ship departed from and they also know that the stowaways are from the Indian subcontinent, where the group’s maritime journey originated is still not known. This is an unusual find on the docks located on the River Thames, about 30 miles outside of London.
The Independent News is reporting today that the stowaways are believed to have been in that shipping container for nine days. Police have learned that there is a second container carrying 12 people, but they have not found that container as of yet.
The containers are not airtight, but the air is “restricted." The containers are 40-feet long, 8-feet tall and 8-feet wide. The people were in tough shape from their nine-day journey and ambulances lined up on the dock to take the stowaways to area hospitals, reports the Huffington Post.
Essex Police Superintendent Trevor Roe said that the group inside the container had “significant health problems.” While none of them are facing life-threatening conditions, they were significantly dehydrated and suffered from hypothermia.
The Tilbury Dock workers made the discovery as the screams were heard coming from the container along with continuous banging. The shipping container was one of 50 that had come in on a ship that made a eight-hour trip from the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge.
The ship is a ferry, one of two that make trips every day between Zeebrugge and London. The ferry, which is operated by the P&O Ferries, arrived around 6 a.m. Saturday local time after the eight-hour trip, which departed at 10 p.m. on Friday night from Zebrugee. That was the last leg of the trip for these stowaways who were finally discovered in Tilbury after all those days in the dark container with no toilet facilities.
The company does not inspect the shipping container, it is the responsibility of the U.K. Border Agency. Now that the 35 stowaways have been discovered, the agency will inspect all 50 containers that came in off the boat that carried in the stowaways.
This incident highlighted the horrific crime of human trafficking and the British authorities “blasted the criminal networks” who engage in this type of trafficking today. The incident is now a full-blown criminal investigation, said Security Minister James Brokenshire in a released statement.
The authorities from the port of Tilbury and the Essex Police are doing everything in their power to bring the criminals responsible for these stowaways to justice. Along with the human trafficking investigation, a homicide investigation is underway because one of the male stowaways arrived dead. There is no cause of death officially released for this man as of yet.