Chinese nationals comprise all 39 bodies found in back of truck: Report

Forensic officers attend to the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurrock, South England, Oct. 23, 2019. (UK Pool via AP)

The 39 bodies found in the back of a refrigerated in Essex, U.K., were all Chinese nationals and adults, except one teenager, ITV news reported on Thursday.

The gruesome discovery was made around 1:20 a.m. local time at an industrial site in Essex, which is just over 30 miles outside London. The truck – hitched to a refrigerated trailer –  is believed to have come from Bulgaria. Human trafficking is being eyed as the investigation continues, officials said.

In 2000, 58 Chinese nationals suffocated to death in a truck trailer in Dover. Again in 2004, 21 illegal immigrants from China who had entered the country via shipping containers perished while harvesting shellfish in northern England

Authorities have arrested a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, where police have conducted two searches, according to ITV.

So far, public details about the investigation have centered around where the truck, both the trailer and cab, originated from.

The vehicle, with Bulgarian license plates, traveled through France, then into southern Ireland and into Dublin before entering the U.K. via the Welsh port of Holyhead.

“The quickest route to get to London is a different way that has the stronger security system,” Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, told FOX Business. “Heartbeat monitors, [carbon dioxide] monitors, sniffer dogs.”

By taking the longer route, the truck’s driver – or drivers, if they switched out – effectively avoided the risks of the security and those checks, Burnett said, adding that the security throughout the route taken “is quite lax."

FOX Business' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.