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Hunt for two brothers over 39 deaths in lorry

POLICE investigating the deaths of 39 people in a lorry have named two suspects they want to speak to on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Essex Police today released pictures of Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from Armagh in Northern Ireland.

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

Prime minister Boris Johnson with the chief constable of Essex Police, Ben-Julian Harrington, as he lays flowers at Thurrock council offices PICTURES: PA

Det Ch Supt Stuart Hooper, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation.

‘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.’

Family’s anguish: A prayer altar in Can Loc, Vietnam, for Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, believed to be among the dead PICTURE: EPA

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

Mo Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, appeared at Chelmsford magistrates’ court yesterday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffick 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 been released on bail until November.

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

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

Families face an agonising wait to find out if their loved ones are among the victims after the force launched ‘the largest mass-fatality victim-identification process’ in its history.

All the bodies have been moved to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford for post-mortem examinations.

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.