The lorry where 39 bodies were found. Photo: PA
HÀ NỘI — Police in the United Kingdom have said they now believe all the people found dead in the back of a lorry were Vietnamese nationals.
In a statement released in the early hours of Saturday morning (Vietnam time), Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable, Tim Smith, said they were working closely with the Vietnamese government and had already informed the families of some of the victims.
Last week the bodies of 39 migrants were found in a refrigeration container on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex in the south of England.
One man, from Northern Island, has been remanded in custody in connection with the deaths, and two people are being held in Viet Nam.
ACC Smith said: "Essex Police is continuing to work closely with HM Senior Coroner and the National Crime Agency to progress the investigation and help identify the victims.
"At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals, and we are in contact with the Vietnamese Government.
"We are in direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK, and we believe we have identified families for some of the victims whose journey ended in tragedy on our shores.
"The confirmatory evidence needed to formally present cases to HM Senior Coroner for her consideration has not yet been obtained.
"This evidence is being gathered across a number of jurisdictions worldwide. As a result, we cannot at this time announce the identity of any of the victims.
"We will continue to co-operate closely with the Vietnamese Government, and others, to identify the victims and offer our support to all those affected by this tragedy.
"From the outset, our thoughts have been and remain with those who have lost loved ones in this tragic incident."
"I would like to continue to appeal to anyone who has information that may assist us in our process to identify the victims to please contact Essex Police.
"Details of how you can pass information can be found at mipp.police.uk where there are also details on how to contact us translated in to Vietnamese.
"We have specially trained people, supported by Vietnamese interpreters, answering our dedicated hotline between 9am to midnight, seven days a week on 0800 056 0944 if you live in the UK and 0044 207 158 0010 if you’re dialling internationally.
"Please come forward and help us to provide answers to the 39 people’s families."
Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Trần Ngọc An told Vietnam News Agency after the Essex Police's statement: "Despite having mentally prepared for the worst scenario, but when officially being informed by the British police, we are also very shocked and mournful. Once again, we want to send our condolences to the families of the victims ".
The Embassy also realeased an official statement on the incident.
It said: "The Embassy is deeply saddened by the initial findings of the Essex County Police that among the victims killed in trucks on October 23, 2019 in Essex County, United Kingdom, there may be Vietnamese citizens. The specific identification of the victims should be conducted and confirmed by the relevant authorities of Vietnam and the UK. We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
"The Vietnamese Embassy in the UK will work closely with the relevant authorities of Vietnam and the UK to assist the families of Vietnamese victims (if any) to bring the bodies of the victims to Vietnam. We strongly condemn the inhumane acts of illegal immigrant traffickers. This has caused the tragedy for the victims and their families. Vietnam will work closely with the UK to bring the criminals to justice and seek effective measures to prevent them. Similar tragedies may occur in the future.
"The Embassy has been and will continue to perform the role of a focal point to ensure the close coordination between British authorities and Vietnamese authorities to do the role of citizen protection. I personally had a meeting with UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel on November 1, and in the coming days the Embassy will continue to work with British authorities. including the Ministry of State for Foreign Affairs, the Home Office and the British police to continue to discuss and handle the case. "
The Vietnamese authorities can be contacted at +447713181501 or 84 981848484 — VNS