First of the 39 bodies removed from Essex lorry

First of the 39 bodies removed from Essex lorry

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Media captionThirty nine bodies were found in the trailer container

Police have begun the process of moving the bodies of 39 Chinese nationals found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex.

Eleven victims were taken by private ambulance from the Port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Police have been granted an extra 24 hours to question lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, on suspicion of murdering the eight women and 31 men.

Post-mortem examinations will be the next step in the investigation.

The ambulance carrying the bodies left the port at 19:41 BST under police escort.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said recovering all the bodies would take time and the dignity of the victims was their primary concern.

Three properties in Northern Ireland have been raided and the National Crime Agency is working to establish if “organised crime groups” were involved.

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The lorry driver has been named locally as Mo Robinson, from County Armagh

Police believe the tractor unit – the front part of the lorry – had entered the country via Holyhead in Wales on Sunday, having travelled from Dublin.

The trailer arrived in Purfleet on the River Thames from Zeebrugge in Belgium at 00:30 BST on Wednesday.

The lorry and trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 01:05 the same day.

Ambulance staff discovered the bodies in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays about 30 minutes later, just after 01:30.

Vigils for the 39 victims were held outside the Home Office in London and at the front of City Hall in Belfast on Thursday.

Speaking earlier, Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said he had the “utmost confidence” in his officers as the force leads its largest-ever murder investigation.

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Campaigners attend a vigil outside the Home Office

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