Dover lorry deaths

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Dover lorry deaths
2000 Dover incident montage.
About this image
The Port of Dover in 2004
Date 18 June 2000
Location Dover, Kent, United Kingdom
Cause of death Carbon monoxide poisoning, asphyxia
Fatalities 58
Survivors 2
Perpetrator Perry Wacker
Dover lorry deaths is located in Kent
Dover lorry deaths
Dover lorry deaths is located in England
Dover lorry deaths
Dover lorry deaths is located in the United Kingdom
Dover lorry deaths
Location in Britain

On 18 June 2000, just before midnight, 58 dead bodies were found in a lorry in the port town of Dover, United Kingdom. Two people were found alive but injured and taken to hospital.


The Dutch lorry came from a ferry that had arrived from Zeebrugge in Belgium. It was selected for examination by officers from HM Customs & Excise who then called the police and ambulance service. It was determined that the deceased were illegal immigrants, and likely died of asphyxiation, though carbon monoxide poisoning was not ruled out. The 60 people were trapped in the container for more than 18 hours, when the outside temperature reached 32 °C (90 °F). The survivors were found closest to the doors.[1]


It was confirmed by police that all the deceased were Chinese immigrants, 54 men and 4 women. The incident was one of the largest mass killings in British criminal history,[2] and the largest involving illegal immigrants entering the United Kingdom, the second being Essex lorry deaths, where all 39 Vietnamese immigrants were found dead in a truck in Essex.[1][3][4] The 60 Chinese had paid £20,000 each. They were flown from Beijing to Belgrade, then driven to Zeebrugge.[5]

Investigation and prosecution[edit]

The trailer was owned by a newly formed Dutch haulage company, 'Van Der Spek Transporten', which had been registered days before the incident.[1] A similarly named, legitimate, Dutch haulage company was not involved.[6] The driver of the lorry was Perry Wacker, 33, of Rotterdam. Wacker was arrested at the scene and, in 2001, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for manslaughter[7] for his part in an organised people smuggling operation, coordinated by a Chinese snakehead gang. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants.

In 2003, nine Chinese gang members were jailed in the Netherlands for their part in the tragedy.[2][6][7][8][9][10][11]


The two survivors were initially hospitalised with extreme dehydration;[1] they were subsequently given conditional leave to remain in Britain for four years.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Hyland, Julie (21 June 2000). "58 Chinese migrants found dead in lorry at Dover, Britain". Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Kelso, Paul (6 April 2001). "Driver of lorry in which 58 Chinese died gets 14 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  3. ^ Reid, Tim: 'They banged on the door and screamed in vain' 20 June 2000 The Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 October 2019
  4. ^ "Dover victims fought for air". BBC. 23 June 2000. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  5. ^ Warning over 'Snakehead' smuggling gangs as police try to identify 39 Chinese dead found in lorry 24 October 2019 Retrieved 26 October 2019
  6. ^ a b Clements, Joan (19 June 2000). "Terror inside the lorry of death". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "14 years for Dover tragedy lorry driver". The Guardian. 5 April 2001. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  8. ^ "58 dead in port lorry". BBC. 19 June 2000. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Chinese human smugglers jailed". BBC. 27 June 2003. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Smuggled immigrants 'promised flights'". BBC. 2 March 2001. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Dutch trucker found guilty in deaths of 58 Chinese immigrants". Arizona Daily Sun.

Coordinates: 51°7′15.3″N 1°18′47.2″E / 51.120917°N 1.313111°E / 51.120917; 1.313111