UK police say migrants found in shipping container are Afghan Sikhs

LONDON Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:20am EDT

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LONDON Aug 17 (Reuters) - Police said on Sunday that 35 people discovered in a shipping container at a British port were Afghan Sikhs and that survivors would be questioned about how they came to be there.

One man died after a group of suspected migrants, including women and children, was found inside a container at Tilbury docks in southeast England on Saturday morning. The container had come on a ship from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Staff at the port only became aware of the group after hearing screaming and banging, said the police, who launched a homicide investigation.

On Sunday, the police said 30 of the 34 survivors had been released from hospital after treatment and were in the care of the authorities. The four other survivors should be well enough to be discharged from hospital later in the day, they said.

"Now they are well enough, our officers and colleagues from the Border Force will be speaking to them via interpreters so we can piece together what happened and how they came to be in the container," Superintendent Trevor Roe of Essex Police said in a statement.

"We now understand that they are from Afghanistan and are of the Sikh faith."

Sikhs make up a tiny minority in Afghanistan's population of around 31 million people.

Police said they were liaising with Interpol and the Belgian police. Other containers on the same ship had been searched and no other stowaways had been found, the police said. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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