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UK police formally identify 39 bodies found in truck, victims confirmed to be Vietnamese

UK police formally identify 39 bodies found in truck, victims confirmed to be Vietnamese

Police vehicles are seen at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain, Oct 24, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson)

LONDON: British police said on Thursday (Nov 7) that they had formally identified the 39 people found dead in the back of a truck near London in October and their families had been notified.

"This is an important step in the investigation and enables us to work with our Vietnamese police colleagues to support the families of those victims," the senior officer in charge of the enquiry, Essex Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, said.

READ: Vietnam 'strongly condemns' human trafficking after UK truck tragedy

READ: Second man charged over 39 UK truck deaths; Vietnam makes arrests

Vietnamese police have also confirmed that all the victims were Vietnamese.

The victims came from six provinces - Haiphong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Hue - the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.

"As of 8pm, on Nov 7, Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security and British authorities had been able to confirm that all of the 39 victims found dead in Essex on Oct 23 were Vietnamese," the ministry said in a statement.

The Vietnamese embassy in London said it was "in deep sorrow" over the confirmation. 

"Once again, we would like to convey our profound condolences and sympathy to the bereaved families," it said in a statement.

It added that its staff and a Vietnamese government delegation would "provide consular protection and support for the bereaved families in order to bring their loved ones home at the earliest time".

The bodies - 31 men and eight women - were discovered in the back of a refrigerated truck in an industrial estate in Grays, Essex. The container had arrived from Belgium and was picked up at Purfleet dock, east of London.

Police originally said the victims were believed to be Chinese. The exact nature of the deaths is yet to be confirmed.

The discovery of the bodies put the spotlight on the illicit trade that sends the poor of Asia, the Middle East and Africa on dangerous journeys to the West.

Police in Britain have charged the 25-year-old driver of the refrigerated lorry, from Northern Ireland, 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.

Vietnam has held 11 people in connection with the deaths for helping people travel abroad with the intention of staying overseas illegally. None have been formally charged.

READ: Our coverage of the UK truck deaths

Source: AGENCIES/ga


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