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Police seek brothers over migrant deaths in lorry

Crucial lead: Officers want to find Ronan Hughes (left) and brother Christopher

TWO suspects police want to speak to over the deaths of 39 migrants found dead on a lorry have been named.

Officers released photos of brothers Ronan and Christopher Hughes as they urged anyone who knows where they are to get in touch.

Det Ch Supt Stuart Hooper, of Essex Police, said: ‘Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial. 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.’

The 39 bodies were discovered in a refrigerated container attached to the lorry in Grays, Essex, last week. Northern Irish driver Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon in Co. Armagh, has been charged with conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter.

Ronan, 40, and Christopher, 34, are both from Armagh.

Mr Hooper said: ‘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.’

The lorry arrived on October 20 in the Anglesey port of Holyhead after being brought from Northern Ireland.

The container — with a fridge system that can keep temperatures as low as minus 25C — was attached to the truck after arriving at Purfleet in Essex at 12.40am last Wednesday. It had been brought by ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium, where it had arrived at 2.49pm the previous day.

The eight women and 31 men found dead by police, called to an industrial park in Grays at 1.40am on Wednesday, were initially believed to be Chinese but Vietnamese nationals are feared to be among the dead. The Essex force has said the quest to find out who they are will be ‘the largest mass fatality victim identification process’ in its history.

Three people arrested over the deaths — a man and woman both aged 38 and a man, 46 — have been bailed. Robinson is due before the Old Bailey on November 25.