A MAN and a woman from Warrington have been arrested this lunchtime, Friday, as part of the investigation into the 39 bodies found in a lorry in Essex.

The 39 - 31 men and eight women - victims are believed to be Chinese and Vietnamese nationals.

Their bodies were found on Wednesday

A statement from Essex Police said: "We have carried out warrants in Cheshire as part of the investigation into 39 bodies being discovered in a lorry trailer in Grays.

"As a result, a 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter.

"A 25-year-old man, the driver of the lorry, remains in custody on suspicion of murder.

"A warrant of further detention was granted yesterday, Thursday, October 24 by local magistrates."

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Police have been at the address in Wiltshire Close, Woolston, since 7am today, Friday speaking to the pair, both 38, who are believed to have previously owned the cab found in Essex.

Joanna and Thomas Maher, who both live in Woolston, claimed on Thursday they had sold the Scania lorry cab, which is registered in Bulgaria, to a company in Ireland.

Mrs Maher, who is reportedly the last known owner of the vehicle, told MailOnline: "We did own it but sold it 13 months ago."

Officers remain at the home this afternoon to carry out searches of the premises.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

Police remain at the house

The pair are being held on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people in connection with the deaths.

Officers carried evidence bags inside the four-bedroom property, which had two grey Range Rovers with personalised number plates and a white Chevrolet sports car parked on the drive.

One neighbour told the Warrington Guardian: "I've lived on the estate for 25 years and nothing has ever happened like this before.

"We saw the police car arrive at 7am this morning and then a policeman drove another van away.

"We were out when the arrest happened this afternoon.

"I don't know them personally, just to talk to and wave to as neighbours."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said that the couple enjoy 'numerous foreign holidays, including trips to Mexico and long cruises'.

He added: "I'm absolutely stunned. My wife got up at about 7.20am and saw the police cars already here.

"I was shocked, they have beautiful kids, I could not believe it."

Nodding towards the cars parked on the drive, he added: "I know Tom is a businessman, a successful one, in haulage.

"Tom and Jo are very pleasant, very approachable. A guy with a family, you couldn't meet more well-mannered children.

"You would see them walking their dogs and they would go to boxing matches, his daughter liked boxing.

"I'm horrified for the children."

An international investigation is under way as post-mortem examinations are due to begin on the bodies found in a refrigerated trailer in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday.

On Thursday evening, the first 11 bodies were moved by a private ambulance with a police escort from the port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Warrington Guardian:

Flowers left at the scene in Essex

Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said he had the "utmost confidence" in his officers as the force leads its largest-ever murder investigation.

Irish police are conducting follow-up inquiries in relation to the registrations and movements of the refrigerated container and the Irish-owned truck.

Three addresses have been searched in Northern Ireland as part of the probe.

The trailer arrived at Purfleet from Zeebrugge in Belgium at around 12.30am on Wednesday, and the front section to which it was attached, known as the tractor, came from Northern Ireland via Holyhead in North Wales on Sunday.

The lorry and trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 1.05am and officers were called to the Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in Grays at 1.40am.

Questions have been raised about when the victims entered the sealed refrigerated trailer, where temperatures can be as low as -25C, as well as the full route of the unit.

Joachim Coens, chief executive of Zeebrugge port, from where the lorry trailer departed, said it was unlikely people were loaded into the container at the Belgian site.

Mayor Dirk De Fauw, also the chairman of the port of Zeebrugge, said it was "virtually impossible" the victims went into the trailer at the Belgian border.

He told Belgian media: "Each trailer is systematically checked to look for outward signs of damage. Then it is sealed. Trailers are filmed until they are on the ferry.

Warrington Guardian:

Officers in Essex

"In the terminals too there are cameras. Breaking the seal, putting 39 people in a trailer and resealing the trailer without anybody noticing is virtually impossible."

A spokesman for C.RO Ports, which operates terminals at Purfleet and Zeebrugge, said the firm would "fully assist" the police investigation, while the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Lui Xioaming, said the Chinese embassy had sent a team to Grays to meet with police.

Vigils have been held in London and Belfast to pay tribute to the victims and a book of condolences has been opened in Grays.