Vietnam’s foreign ministry and embassy in London have released separate statements on the 39 people found dead in the back of a truck near London on Wednesday as more Vietnamese families fear their relatives were among the victims.
British police found the bodies of the 39 people, including eight women and 31 men, in a refrigerated container of the semi-trailer truck at an industrial park in Essex, about 32 kilometers from central London, Reuters reported.
Initially, Essex police said the victims were all “believed to be Chinese nationals,” according to the BBC.
However, the Embassy of Vietnam in London said on Friday it had received requests from Vietnamese families asking for help in finding out whether their relatives were among the 39 victims, Reuters reported.
“The embassy has not yet received any official confirmation from the British relevant agencies,” it added in a statement.
“The embassy has continued to follow the event and worked closely with relevant British agencies to accelerate the investigation process.”
In a separate statement released late Friday, the Vietnamese foreign ministry said it had directed the UK embassy to work closely with British police to confirm the victims’ nationality.
The ministry’s Consular Department has also been assigned as a contact for providing information from Vietnamese authorities and local administrations to the British side to facilitate the verification process.
The ministry said its UK embassy is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to take citizen protection measures in the case that one or more Vietnamese nationals are confirmed to be among the 39 victims.
Those seeking assistance in relation to the case can contact the citizen protection hotline of the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK at +44 7713 181501 or Vietnam’s general citizen protection hotline at +84981 8484 84.
|Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills of Essex Police makes a statement outside Grays police station, after bodies were discovered in a lorry container in Grays, Essex, Britain October 25, 2019. Photo: Reuters|
Earlier, a family in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh reported to authorities that their daughter might be one of the 39 victims.
The 26-year-old woman had left Vietnam on October 3 and is believed to have traveled through China and France before reaching the UK.
She has not been heard from since Wednesday, when she bade farewell to her family in chat messages provided by a source close to the family.
Some Vietnamese officials speculate that she might have used counterfeit papers to be trafficked into Europe as a Chinese national by an organized ring.
On Friday, British police arrested a man and woman, both aged 38, in Warrington, northwest England, and a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland at London's Stansted Airport.
They are suspected of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter.