A mother kneels in front of a makeshift altar for her son who is missing and believed to be among the victims found in a lorry in Essex, UK. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — British police have sent documents to Việt Nam for verification on four of the 39 victims found dead inside a lorry last week, said a Vietnamese deputy foreign minister on Monday morning.
Deputy minister Bùi Thanh Sơn told reporters during a National Assembly meeting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was yet to receive the papers to run the verification process and thus none of the victims have been confirmed, he added.
The tragedy came to light last Wednesday when police received reports about 39 bodies found in a lorry at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, about 20 miles east of London.
Police first suspected the victims to be Chinese nationals, but they shifted their efforts to identify the victims among the Vietnamese community after two dozen Vietnamese families reported their children missing while supposedly en route to Britain.
As of Sunday evening, 24 families in the central provinces of Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh reported to the authorities that they have been out of contact with their children for almost a week.
Sơn said that it was still too early to “say anything concrete” about the deaths of the alleged illegal migrants.
UK police managed to get leads on four cases and sent their documents to Việt Nam to help verifying the victims.
“It will take quite a while for British police because according to the law, the UK doesn’t accept face identification but DNA tests only,” he said.
According to the plan, British police will be able to complete papers for between five and six cases a day, Sơn said.
“Sending documents of the first four cases to Việt Nam means that the UK has doubts on the nationality of the victims and is seeking bilateral co-operation for verification.”
Việt Nam planned to have a meeting with the British Ambassador in Việt Nam Gareth Ward on Monday to exchange information, Sơn added.
Following a meeting with Việt Nam’s Ministry of Public Security on Monday, UK Ambassador to Việt Nam Gareth Ward issued a statement on the deaths of 39 people in Essex.
The ambassador confirmed there has been no official identification of the victims, but authorities in Việt Nam and the UK are working closely together on this process. “This identification process will take time to ensure the dignity of the victims, to guarantee forensic accuracy, and to secure information for the ongoing investigation,” Ward said in the statement.
“The UK and Vietnam are friends and partners. We will work together to raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking, to prosecute the criminals who facilitate it, and to protect vulnerable people.”— VNS