The Chinese Embassy in Britain said on Thursday that it is in close contact with British police to seek clarification and confirmation on media reports that the 39 deceased found in a lorry container in Essex were Chinese nationals.
"We read with heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex, England. We are in close contact with the British police to seek clarification and confirmation of the relevant reports," the embassy said in a statement.
On Thursday night, a spokesperson with the embassy said the Chinese embassy sent a team led by the minister-counsellor in charge of consular affairs to Essex and they have met with the local police.
"The police said that they are verifying the identity of the deceased, whose nationality still cannot be confirmed," the spokesperson said.
The statement from the Essex Police said that detectives investigating the incident have "secured a warrant of further detention from local magistrates at Basildon, Essex for a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland."
The man, a lorry driver, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and will now remain in custody for up to an additional 24 hours, according to the statement.
According to media reports, the truck on which the 39 bodies were found on Wednesday in Essex, arrived in England by passing through the port of Zeebrugge, a large container, bulk cargo and passenger ferry terminal port in the municipality of Bruges, Belgium.
The Chinese Embassy in Belgium is also highly concerned about the media reports, an embassy spokesperson said Thursday in a statement.
The Chinese Embassy has asked the Belgian police and other relevant departments to conduct a comprehensive investigation, the spokesperson said.