More than thirty people, one of them dead, have been discovered in a shipping container at a British port. Several children were among those hiding in the container, which had arrived from Belgium.
A dead man and some 30 other people were found on Saturday inside a shipping container in a cargo vessel being unloaded at Tilbury Docks, east of London, emergency officials say.
"Thirty-one people, including adults and children of both genders, were found inside," a police spokesman said.
He said one man had died, and the others were in poor health. Many in the container were suffering from dehydration. A number were taken to hospital, while others were treated at the scene.
The East of England Ambulance service confirmed a hazardous area response team had been sent, including seven ambulances.
The container had arrived on a ship from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The nationalities of the people in the container are still unknown.
The incident is reminiscent of another case that occurred in June, 2000, at the English port of Dover, when the bodies of 58 people of Chinese origin were found in the back of a truck that also came from Zeebrugge.
Tilbury, on the River Thames, is primarily a bulk cargo and container port, thus making it less of a destination for illegal immigrants than Dover.
Police said they had started an investigation and were working with immigration and health authorities.
tj/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP)