LONDON -- Emergency services in south-east England have recovered 39 bodies from a container truck believed to have been driven from Bulgaria, in a case that was met with shock and condemnation from British politicians.
Essex Police said they investigated a report early Wednesday of "a lorry container with people inside" at the Waterglade Industrial Park near the town of Grays.
"Emergency services arrived but sadly, 39 people were pronounced dead at the scene," the police said, adding that early indications suggested the victims were 38 adults and one teenager.
They said the truck driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said in a late morning update that the police were in the "early stages of what is likely to be a lengthy process."
Mills said identifying the victims was the "number one priority" in the police investigation, while the route taken by the truck was a "key line of enquiry."
"We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on Saturday 19 October and we are working closely with our partners to investigate," Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said in an earlier statement.
Holyhead is a port in North Wales with vehicle ferry links to Dublin in Ireland.
Ireland's national police force, An Garda Siochana, said in an emailed statement that it was "monitoring the developing investigation in the UK and will provide every assistance possible."
North Wales Police said Essex Police were leading the investigation "and all enquiries should be directed to them."