A BASILDON man has been charged with killing 39 Vietnamese immigrants who were found dead in the back of a lorry in Grays.

The victims were found in a trailer in the Waterglade Industrial Park on October 23.

It can now be revealed postmortem examinations found they had been starved of oxygen and died after overheating.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration. He is in custody in Essex.

His arrest came after Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close, in Langdon Hills was detained at Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday, January 29.

Nica was held under a European Arrest Warrant, which had been successfully applied for by Essex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

He appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday and will next appear at the Old Bailey, London, on March 16.

He is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, Northern Ireland awaits extradition to the UK under the terms of a European Arrest Warrant.

Harrison faces 39 charges of manslaughter and charges for conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

He will appear at the same court today.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Our teams are continuing to progress hundreds of lines of enquiry and are working with the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies from across the globe to further their lengthy and complex investigation.

“Further arrests have also been made in connection with the investigation.

“As our investigation progresses, we are keen to hear from anyone who has knowledge of two similar journeys that haulage vehicles made into Purfleet on Friday 11 and Friday 18 October 2019.

“It is believed that lorries were used to facilitate the unlawful entry of people into the country via Purfleet.

“We believe that these people, or anyone who had knowledge of the journeys, has crucial information to assist our inquiry.”

Anyone with information should call Rayleigh’s Major Crime Team on 101 or submit information, including videos and photos, through our public portal at mipp.police.uk/ operation/4201020119P15-PO1.

Northern Irishman Maurice Robinson, 25, the driver of the lorry in which the 39 people were found dead, has admitted assisting illegal immigration.

He is yet to enter a plea to 39 counts of manslaughter.