Truck driver charged with 39 manslaughter counts

THURROCK, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: A lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer is driven from the site to a secure location where further forensic investigation can take place, on October 23, 2019 in Thurrock, England. The lorry was discovered early Wednesday morning in Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in the town of Grays. Authorities said they believed the lorry originated in Bulgaria. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

LONDON — UK police have charged a truck driver with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people in connection with 39 deaths in the back of the truck he was driving in southeastern England.

Police say Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Monday. He was the first of those arrested to be charged in what is seen as one of the U.K.’s biggest cases of people smuggling.

Four others have been arrested in the case. U.K. police are struggling to identify the victims, who are believed to have come from Asia, and autopsies are being performed. The Vietnamese Embassy in London has set up a hotline for families to call about missing family members.

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