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Suspect arrested over UK shipping container death

A man has been arrested in Northern Ireland following the death of one of 35 Afghan immigrants found in a shipping container in England over the weekend.

Police in Northern Ireland confirmed an arrest over the death of a 40-year-old Afghan man found in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks in Essex, east of London. The suspect was apprehended on the motorway southeast of Belfast on suspicion of manslaughter. A further charge of facilitating illegal entry into the United Kingdom was brought against the 34-year-old suspect, and the police are searching his home in Limavady, Northern Ireland.

A sign outside of the docks in Tilbury

Tilbury is a bulk cargo port and not a usual destination for attempted immigration.

"This is a fast-moving investigation which has already involved a number of police forces and law enforcement agencies from across the United Kingdom and Europe," said Essex Police's acting detective chief inspector Martin Pasmore. The suspect is being brought to Essex for questioning.

The deceased, Meet Singh Kapoor, was one of 35 Afghan Sikhs found in the container on August 16th. His children, aged 9 and 12, were among the survivors found after dockworkers heard screaming and banging coming from the shipping container.

Officials are yet to ascertain how the asylum seekers came to be on board. The ferry had sailed to the UK from Zeebrugge in Belgium. "It was pitch black, without any air. It soon became extremely uncomfortable," a local man called in to interpret told ITV television after talking with the victims. While no cause of death has been established, others discovered with Kapoor are being treated for dehydration and hypothermia.

Sikhs are a minority in Afghanistan, and the 34 survivors are claiming asylum in Great Britain on the grounds of religious persecution.

The UK famously opted out of the Schengen Agreement, wherein twenty-two of the twenty-eight EU member states abolished controls at their common borders, citing illegal immigration concerns. This means that many wishing to enter Great Britain have to risk their lives at sea to reach the island.

es/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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