UK police are struggling to identify the victims, who are believed to have come from Asia, and autopsies are under way.

A relative lights an incense stick in front of a portrait of Bui Thi Nhung, who is feared to be among the 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain, inside her house in Vietnam's Nghe An province, October 26, 2019
A relative lights an incense stick in front of a portrait of Bui Thi Nhung, who is feared to be among the 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain, inside her house in Vietnam's Nghe An province, October 26, 2019 (AFP)

British police investigating the deaths of 39 people in a refrigerated truck said on Saturday they had charged a driver arrested at the scene with manslaughter and people trafficking.

Maurice Robinson, 25, from Northern Ireland, faces "39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering", police said.

Robinson was arrested shortly after the bodies were discovered in the truck at Purfleet on the River Thames estuary, after arriving on a ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge early on Wednesday.

He will appear in court on Monday, Essex police said.

Three other people have been arrested in Britain in connection with the investigation, on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter. They remain in custody.

They include a 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington in northwest England, reportedly a couple. She is said to be the legal owner of the truck.

A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland is also being held.

On Saturday, Irish police announced another arrest at Dublin port, of a man in his early 20s from Northern Ireland.

Source: AFP