Desperate hunt for brothers after 39 bodies found dead in back of truck

A manhunt is underway for two brothers from Northern Ireland who police suspect of being involved in the deaths of 39 people found in a truck in the UK last week.

Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from Armagh, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking, Essex Police said.

According to the force, Ronan, who also goes by the name Rowan, and Christopher have links to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Police want to speak to brothers Christopher, left, and Ronan Hughes in connection with the deaths of 39 people found dead in a truck in Essex. Source: Essex Police

On Monday, truck driver Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, appeared via videolink in court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

"Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation,” Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, who is leading the investigation, said.

"At this time we believe they are in Northern Ireland but they also have links to the Irish Republic.

"If you know where they are or have any information about their whereabouts I need you to call my team.

"This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice."

Maurice Robinson has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter (Picture: Facebook)

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a truck in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of last Wednesday (local time).

Robinson appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday and was also charged with conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering.

Three other people arrested in connection with the incident - a 38 year-old man, a 38 year-old woman, and a 46 year-old man - have all been released on bail until November.

The discovery has sparked a huge international investigation to try and identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals, but Vietnamese men and women are also feared to be among the dead.

The truck in which the bodies of 39 people were discovered at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex. Source: Getty

All of the victims have since been moved from the vehicle to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford for post-mortem examinations to be carried out.

It is not yet known when the victims entered the trailer, where temperatures can be as low as minus 25C if the fridge is activated, or the exact route it travelled.

Belgian officials said the trailer arrived at Zeebrugge at 2.49pm on Tuesday and left the port the same day en route to Purfleet in Essex.

The trailer arrived at Purfleet at around 12.30am on Wednesday, and was picked up by the cab, known as the tractor, which arrived from Northern Ireland via Holyhead in North Wales on Sunday.

The truck left the port at Purfleet shortly after 1.05am before police were called to the Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in Grays at 1.40am.

Yahoo UK

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