A group of 35 stowaways found screaming in a locked container shocked workers at a dock on Saturday morning. The workers heard the screams and pounding coming from inside the container that arrived at the dock at 6am. The Independent reported on this incident on Aug. 17.
Workers at a dock in London definitely did not expect to find 35 people locked in a storage container when they arrived at work on Saturday. Once the screams began, the workers rushed to open the container, but it was too late for one of the people inside. A 34-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. The 34 others inside were taken to local hospitals. Many of the stowaways were treated for dehydration and hypothermia. Four people are still hospitalized.
The stowaways included men, women, and children. None of the others found inside the container had life threatening injuries. Police in London are treating the death of the one man as a homicide, and authorities launched an investigation immediately following the discovery. Trevor Roe, a superintendent with the Essex Police, spoke out about the investigation. He said the following:
"This is a humanitarian issue, and the welfare of these patients is a priority. It will be a difficult investigation. We will try to find whoever was involved in this conspiracy to bring these people to this country. We want to bring these people to justice."
Once workers at the dock opened the container, safety of everyone at the dock was the first priority. Authorities established a quarantine zone to protect against Ebola and other infectious diseases, but there was no threat discovered. The container arrived on a ship that left Belgium late Friday night. It is believed the people inside are Sikhs that came from Afghanistan.
A Sikh leader is now looking into that possibility, and he spoke out about the issues his people face in Afghanistan. Rawel Singh, vice president of the Hindu and Sikh Council of Afghanistan, said the following in an interview after the discovery of the container on Saturday, according to Al Arabiya News:
"I didn’t know of this until the news reports emerged and I am trying to contact families who may be involved. I am urgently seeking more information. Our rights are trampled and we are treated badly by the Afghan people. We are discriminated against, our children cannot attend school, and our land has been stolen. Therefore many Sikhs are forced to flee Afghanistan."
The site reported that only a few thousand Sikh people remain in Afghanistan at this time. Roe did reveal during his press conference that British authorities would speak to representatives in Afghanistan via interpreter to figure out more about what happened in this case.
The discovery of this locked container is not rare. Attempts to enter the UK illegally have increased in the past year. Most entries are made via a dock further south, but this locked contained arrived at the dock in Tilbury. It originated from the dock at Zeebrugge. There were a total of 50 containers on the ship, and authorities searched the other containers on the ship for more stowaways.
James Brokenshire, British Immigration and Security Minister, said the following about this incident in a statement released on Saturday, according to NBC News:
"Today's tragic incident at Tilbury is a reminder of the often devastating human consequences of illegal migration. This incident is now a criminal investigation. Border Force officers are fully engaged with Essex police and the Tilbury port authorities as the necessary steps are taken towards bringing those responsible to justice."
This is still a developing story. However, it does put a spotlight on the issue of illegal immigration. It is not just a problem for the United States.