Two charged in UK after Afghan found dead in shipping container

A handout picture obtained by Essex Police on Aug 21, 2014 shows the shipping container where 35 people, including a dead Afghan Sikh, were found at Tilbury Docks, East of London. -- PHOTO: AFP/HO/ESSEX POLICE
A handout picture obtained by Essex Police on Aug 21, 2014 shows the shipping container where 35 people, including a dead Afghan Sikh, were found at Tilbury Docks, East of London. -- PHOTO: AFP/HO/ESSEX POLICE

LONDON (AFP) - Two truck drivers have been charged after 35 Afghan Sikhs were found in a shipping container at a British port, one of them dead, police said Saturday.

Stephen McLaughlin, 34, of Limavady, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and Timothy Murphy, 33 of Elmgrove, Londonderry, are charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into Britain. They are due to appear in court later.

The survivors, aged between one and 72, were found in the container on August 16 at Tilbury Docks east of London suffering severe dehydration and hypothermia.

They were only found after staff heard banging and screaming coming from the container, which had arrived at the docks from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

The dead man was identified as 40-year-old Meet Singh Kapoor, whose children aged nine and 12 were in the container with him.

The Sikhs had been inside the container for 18 hours and said they were fleeing religious persecution in Kabul, said Kamaljit Singh Mataharu, a Punjabi-speaking local man who was called in by the police to translate.

Tilbury Docks is the main port serving the British capital.