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UK truck deaths: One victim might have been from Vietnam, says rights activist

UK truck deaths: One victim might have been from Vietnam, says rights activist

In a text message addressed to her mother, Pham Thi Tra My, 26, said that she could not breathe at about the time the truck container was en route from Belgium to Britain, says a human right activist. (Photo: Twitter/Hoa Nghiem)

LONDON: One of the 39 people found dead in the back of a truck near London might have originally come from Vietnam, a Vietnamese human rights activist has said.

In a text message addressed to her mother, Pham Thi Tra My, 26, said that she could not breathe at about the time the truck container was en route from Belgium to Britain, said Hoa Nghiem from Human Rights Space, a civic network based in Vietnam.

"It was told on the news that all 39 people were Chinese but Tra My's family is trying to verify if their daughter was among them as the last dying text from her was coincidentally intime [sic]," Nghiem wrote on Twitter.

"Our contact is getting more alerts that there could be more Vietnamese people in the truck."

VietHome, an organisation for the Vietnamese community, said it had received news from 10 families that their loved ones were missing. Hanoi's London embassy was coordinating with British police, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

Police officers drive away a lorry in which 39 dead bodies were discovered at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP / Ben STANSALL)

READ: UK police search properties after 39 found dead in truck

Nghiem published a screenshot of Tra My's text message, which indicated it was sent at 4.28am on Wednesday Vietnam time (2128 GMT Tuesday).

"I'm sorry Mom. My path to abroad doesn't succeed. Mom, I love you so much! I'm dying bcoz I can't breath ... I'm from Nghen, Can Loc, Ha Tinh, Vietnam ... I am sorry, Mom," the message said, according to Nghiem.

The bodies were found in the truck container at an industrial estate near London at 1.40am (0040 GMT) British time. 

The container had arrived in Britain about an hour-and-a-half earlier, from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

British police forensics officers work on a lorry, found to be containing the bodies of 39 people, at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall)

READ: Postmortems to begin on 39 victims found dead in truck in the UK

British police have said the 39 victims were all believed to be Chinese nationals.

China, however, has said they have not received confirmation on the victims' nationalities.

"Pham Thi Tra My went to China and planned to go to England via France, a contact with her family told me," Nghiem said.

READ: China calls for 'severe punishment' for those involved in UK truck deaths

On Friday, British police said they had arrested two more people in connection with the case.

A man and a woman, both aged 38 and from Warrington in northwest England, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffick people and 39 counts of manslaughter, they said.

A 25-year-old lorry driver remains in custody on suspicion of murder, they added. He was arrested on Wednesday, and a warrant of further detention was granted on Thursday.

Late on Thursday, British authorities moved 11 of the victims to a hospital mortuary from a secure location at docks near to the industrial estate in Grays about 30km east of London where the bodies were found.

Postmortem examinations were beginning to determine how exactly they died while forensic experts sought to identify the deceased, which police warned would be a lengthy process.

READ: Our coverage of the UK truck deaths

Source: Agencies/aj

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