39 Chinese nationals found dead in UK truck, driver charged with murder

39 bodies found in a truck in Essex, England, were identified Thursday as Chinese nationals. Police have not confirmed whether they were victims of a human trafficking or human smuggling operation, but charged the driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, with murder.

The truck was found on a street at the heart of the usually busy industrial area. Police — who were called to the scene at around 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday — said the victims were found dead on the scene.

Road haulage experts said the truck appeared to be refrigerated. That could mean freezing temperatures of anywhere between -5 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-20C to -23C), Richard Burnett, chief executive of trade body the Road Haulage Association, told PA news agency, making conditions "absolutely horrendous" for anyone stuck inside.

"I can't overstate how big a tragedy it is that 39 people felt like they had no better option than to get in the back of this truck and obviously it's ended in an absolute tragedy," Matthew Carter, an emergency communications delegate for the British Red Cross, told CNN at the scene on Wednesday.