A lorry containing 39 bodies, which was discovered in Essex this morning, may have crossed the border from Belfast to Dublin, according to reports.
It is suspected that the bodies were in the lorry container as it made its way across the border in Co Armagh.
The Irish Mirror reports that the truck travelled down the M1 motorway through south Armagh and Dundalk and on to Dublin in the last few days.
It is believed it then went through Dublin Port where it experienced no delays and onto the ferry to Holyhead, before making its way down south towards Essex.
The gruesome discovery was made in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the Waterglade Industrial Park, Eastern Avenue, Grays.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, speaking in the House of Commons, said: “It is hard to put ourselves in the shoes of those emergency services as they were asked to open that container and to expose the appalling crime that had taken place.
“All such traders in human beings should be hunted down and brought to justice,” he said.
A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: “Shortly before 1am today we received reports that a number of people had been found inside a lorry’s container at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Eastern Avenue in Grays.
“We believe the lorry is from Bulgaria and came into the UK through Holyhead on October 19.
“Emergency services attended but sadly all 39 people inside the container had died. Early indications suggest that one of these people was a teenager, the rest are believed to be adults.
“A murder investigation was launched and the lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.
“At this stage we have not identified where the victims are from or their identities and we anticipate this could be a lengthy process. I would like to thank the local community and in particular those who have been directly affected by the police cordon at the industrial site.
DCC Mills added: “This is an absolute tragedy and a very sad day for Essex Police and the local community.
“We will continue to work alongside many other partner agencies to find out what led to these deaths. I would like to appeal for anyone who has any information to contact my officers at the Major Investigation Team on 101 or by visiting Essex Police website.”
Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland policy manager for the Freight Transport Association, said if the lorry had come from Bulgaria, getting into Britain via Holyhead was an “unorthodox route”.
“People have been saying that security and checks have been increased at places like Dover and Calais, so it might be seen as an easier way to get in by going from Cherbourg or Roscoff, over to Rosslare, then up the road to Dublin.
“It’s a long way around and it’ll add an extra day to the journey.”