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Dead migrants 'left bloody handprints inside Essex lorry after banging for help'

The 39 migrants found dead in a lorry left bloody handprints inside the container where they were trapped, it can be revealed.

The victims, discovered in the early hours of Wednesday, were wearing minimal clothing or were naked, sources have told the Mirror.

One woman thought to be among the deceased sent a harrowing last text message to her mother from the metal container.

Pham Thi Tra My, 26, wrote: “I’m sorry Mum. My journey abroad hasn’t succeeded. Mum, I love you so much. I’m dying because I can’t breathe.”

It was sent at 10.28pm on Tuesday, three hours before the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found piled up in the sealed refrigerated container.

39 migrants were found dead in the refrigeration container (Image: PA)

Pham Thi Tra My is feared to be among those who died in the container (Image: Twitter)

The Mirror can reveal that emergency teams found bloody handprints on the inside of the doors of the metal box.

A source said: "When the door of the container was opened, first responders were shocked to see dozens of dead bodies piled on top of one another.

"The bodies closest to the doors had foam coming from their mouths and were in the early stages of rigor mortis.

"There were bloody handprints all along the inside of the lorry door where they must have been banging for help...

"[The dead people] were wearing little clothing, and in some cases were naked."

Pham Thi Tra My’s family said she paid £30,000 to be smuggled into the UK via China and France. It raises the possibility that traffickers were given nearly £1.2million in total by the 39 victims.

Four people have now been arrested in connection with the deaths including married pair Joanna and Thomas Maher, both 38, of Warrington, Cheshire.

Police at first thought the victims were all Chinese but at least six Vietnamese families fear their loved ones are among the dead.

The brother of a 19-year-old woman from Vietnam said she called him on Tuesday morning, saying she was getting into a container and was turning off her phone to avoid detection. He has not heard from her since.

While the family of Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, said he travelled from Vietnam to France over a year ago and has not been heard from in recent days.

Police are still questioning Joanna and Thomas Maher on suspicion of people trafficking and 39 counts of manslaughter.

Hours earlier they told the Mirror they previously owned the Scania lorry cab driven by Mo Robinson, 25, of Laurelvale, Northern Ireland, who was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder after the victims were found dead in the container in Grays, Essex.

The Mahers said they sold the Bulgarian-registered vehicle a year ago to a company in Ireland.

Outside their £250,000 home, Mr Maher, who is understood to be a haulage firm owner said: “It’s disgusting what’s happened.”

He added he contacted police after news of the deaths broke. It is mum-of-three Mrs Maher is a hairdresser.

In Bulgaria, Ivan Jelyazkov said he had helped set up a company that owned the truck and added the Mahers are “honest people”.

As the Mahers were being questioned, police revealed on Friday they had detained a fourth person.

A police officer leave the house of Joanna and Thomas Maher (Image: Peter Powell)

The 48-year-old man, from Northern Ireland, was arrested at Stansted Airport in Essex on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

Police added: “A 25-year-old man arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder remains in custody.”

It is believed most, if not all, the victims were dead when Robinson picked up the container at Purfleet on the River Thames at 1.05am. He drove the short distance to the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, where the horrific discovery was made.

The container is believed to have travelled on freight ship MV Clementine, which sailed from Zeebrugge, Belgium at 3pm on Tuesday.

It docked shortly after midnight at Purfleet and Robinson picked up the trailer 35 minutes later.

Mo Robinson was arrested in Grays, Essex

The container is owned by Irish firm Global Trailer Rentals Ltd and was leased on October 15 from its yard in Co Monaghan at £250 per week until its return.

Its GPS data has been analysed and a source said: “The migrants may have come from China but the data on the GPS suggests the container didn’t journey past Western Europe.”

The Mirror understands data shows the container arrived in Holyhead on Anglesey overnight on October 16 before crossing to mainland Europe that evening.

The trailer travelled to Dunkirk and Lille in France, and Bruges in Belgium. The trailer then made two journeys between the UK and mainland Europe between October 17 and 22.

Officials in Zeebrugge yesterday admitted only 1% of sealed containers leaving the port for journeys in Europe are X-rayed in custom spot-checks.

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Pham Thi Tra My is feared to be among those who died in the container (Image: Twitter)

Nguyen Dinh Luong is also feared to be among those dead (Image: BBC)

Mo Robinson was arrested in Grays, Essex

Ms Pham's father, Pham Van ThinCredit (image: CNN)

Nguyen Thi Phong has spoken of her daughter's disappearance (Image: CNN)

Joanna and Thomas Maher are under arrest (Image: Facebook)

A police officer leave the house of Joanna and Thomas Maher (Image: Peter Powell)

39 migrants were found dead in the refrigeration container (Image: PA)

Via Mirror

My view: I can't imagine how much they suffered. So tragic, such a terrible waste of human life. Those human traffickers are evil, they took huge amount of money from these poor people who were trying to escape poverty, only to be locked up in a refrigeration container.

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