After dock workers heard "screaming and banging" from inside a shipping container on a dock in eastern England on Saturday morning, they opened it up and discovered a horrifying sight.
One man was dead and 34 others, including children, were transported to hospitals suffering from "severe dehydration and hypothermia," according to the Telegraph, adding that it's presumed they are illegal immigrants.
The shipping container was being unloaded at Tilbury docks in Essex from a ferry hailing from Zeebrugge, Belgium, NBC News reported.
"As a result of the ferry docking, staff at the port became aware of screaming and banging coming from the container," Superintendent Trevor Roe said.
Police are treating the incident as a homicide, NBC News said.
Roe added that the stowaways were from the "Indian sub-continent," the Telegraph reported; the other containers on the ship were being searched as well, he said.
More from the Telegraph:
The P&O freight ship, Nordstream, left the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium at 10pm on Friday and arrived at Tilbury at 6am on Saturday after an eight-hour crossing. The stowaways were found inside one of the ship's 64 steel containers, which are 40ft long and almost airtight when sealed.
A "decontamination zone" was set up around the area where the people were found at Tilbury. However, a spokesperson for Public Health England said there was no sign of any risk from infectious diseases like Ebola. "If it was Ebola, health care professionals are so alert at the moment to signs and symptoms that should there have been anyone who was showing symptoms we would have been notified immediately," she said. "I think we can be confident that we are not dealing with that."
Thousands of illegal immigrants try to make the dangerous journey by sea to Britain every year. They come from a wide range of countries, including those as far apart as Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria.