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|Tuesday, June 20, 2000, updated at 17:15(GMT+8)|
China `Shocked' by Migrant Deaths in BritainChina said on Tuesday it was shocked by the discovery of the corpses of 58 suspected Chinese illegal immigrants in a tomato truck at a British port and urged the international community to crack down on illegal immigration.
``The Chinese government is shocked by this incident,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao told a news conference.
He said the tragedy ``showed that illegal immigration in the world is very rampant and the international community has the responsibility to crack down on illegal immigration.''
The Chinese government was following the case closely, he said. He declined further comment.
The bodies of 54 men and four women, thought to be Chinese victims of a botched scam organized by human traffickers known as ``snakeheads,'' were found crammed in a tomato truck at the southern English port of Dover on Monday.
The truck's cooling system was switched off, turning it into an oven of death in sweltering summer temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two others who survived the tragedy were under armed police guard due to concerns that ``snakeheads'' might try to prevent them from blowing the whistle on the scam.
``International cooperation is called for to crack down on snakeheads,'' Zhu said.
He also insisted China had taken a ``series of forceful measures,'' including intensified inspections at ports and borders, and education work to clamp down on illegal emigration.
China was prepared to join hands with the international community to stamp out ``cross-border illegal activities,'' Zhu said. China captured more than 9,000 people trying to leave last year and arrested more than 800 ``snakeheads,'' state media have said.
A spokesman at Britain's Home Office said the victims and survivors appeared to be from East Asia, but their nationality had yet to be confirmed.
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