LONDON, Nov 8 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Vietnam said it was working to repatriate 39 bodies now identified as Vietnamese nationals found in a truck near London last month, in a case that exposed the deadly risks of illegal migration to Europe.
The country’s embassy in London said a government delegation already in Britain was coordinating with officials to get the bodies home “at the earliest time”.
It came as British police confirmed that those discovered in the refrigerated truck on Oct 23 all came from the southeast Asian nation.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the tragedy had caused Vietnamese people worldwide “endless pain” and vowed to “soon bring the victims back to the homeland”.
In his letter to the affected families, the Vietnamese prime minister called for more global cooperation “to eliminate this especially dangerous crime … and seriously punish the criminals”.
Vietnamese authorities have detained 11 people there for facilitating travel abroad with the intention of staying overseas illegally, but none have been formally charged.
One Vietnamese man, Nguyen Dinh Gia, said that officials had called him to confirm that his son, Nguyen Dinh Luong, was among the victims.
“Our hope now is the body of my son will be brought home soon,” he said.
The bodies were found in the early hours of Oct 23 inside the refrigerated section of the truck, which had just entered Britain on a ferry from Belgium and parked up near the port of Purfleet in Essex.
Police initially said the victims were believed to be Chinese nationals, until several Vietnamese families came forward to say they feared their relatives were on board.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said they hailed from six provinces – Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue – which are common feeders for illegal emigration.
Several families of the suspected victims said their relatives were seeking better lives abroad, and they were now worried about how to repay thousands of dollars of debt their children took on for the ill-fated trip.
British police have charged the 25-year-old Northern Irish driver of the truck with manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
They are also in the process of extraditing another suspect from Ireland and searching for others potentially involved. — NNN-AGENCIES