It’s a bit like something out of The Wire: a shipping container arrives on a dock with desperate people inside, and there’s a dead body involved. Unfortunately, though, this is real life, with a real death among a group of Indian immigrants trying desperately to escape to a better life.
The container was found Saturday in a shipping yard east of London, and it contained one dead man and 34 others. It might have sat unopened for who knows how long if a passerby hadn’t heard the banging and screaming coming from inside.
“Staff here at the port became aware of screaming and banging coming from a container,” police told News 7. “As a result of that noise, staff were alerted and immediately breached the container to find 35 persons within that unit.”
The 34 survivors were taken to nearby hospitals, with two in serious but not life-threatening condition. The rest were suffering from dehydration and hypothermia.
The one fatality is being treated as a homicide, and the police say that there is no suggestion that the occupants of the container are being looked at as suspects. Instead, police will look at the people responsible for shipping the container.
“Clearly we need to bring them to justice,” said one police representative.
It’s hard to tell exactly what happened on the doubtlessly harrowing journey to the UK, partly due to language barriers that keep the police from clearly understanding the immigrants’ story. According to records, though, the container arrived about an hour before it was loaded onto a ferry, after which it was sent on an eight-hour overnight crossing. Prior to that, though, there could have been days or weeks of arduous, cramped travel in the container.
The case illustrates the desperate situation of peoples in some parts of the world, as the immigrants were willing to endure days of cramped, unsanitary conditions in order to escape to a better life. Unfortunately, theirs is not a unique case.
As News 7 notes, numerous other instances have seen immigrants caught entering Britain under illegal circumstances. More than 11,000 attempts to cross the English Channel illegally were prevented at “juxtaposed controls.”
Sometimes, these attempts don’t end as well as this most recent attempt. The year 2000 saw 58 Chinese immigrants die by suffocation after an air vent on their container was closed as they tried to cross through the English port of Dover.
The problem has not gone unnoticed by authorities, though they are mostly focused on preventing unfortunate instances