British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward on Monday met with the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security to discuss identification of 39 people found dead in a truck in Essex last week.
“At this time, we have not received confirmation as to who these people are, and where they are from,” Ward said in a statement sent to the media on the same day.
“But whatever nationality they have, our hearts go out to their families and friends.”
British police found the bodies of the 39 people, including eight women and 31 men, in a refrigerated container of a 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 last week it had received requests from Vietnamese families asking for help in finding out whether their relatives were among the 39 victims, according to Reuters.
“We know that there is a lot of concern amongst Vietnamese communities in the UK and in Vietnam about this tragedy,” Ward said in Monday’s statement.
The British ambassador added that he had discussed with the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security how the two sides would “work closely together during the process of victim identification.”
“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,” he said.
Ambassador Ward, who took office in August last year, added that “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,” he said.
Earlier, Vietamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son told reporters in Hanoi on Monday morning that the British side had sent files on four out of the 39 victims to Vietnamese authorities requesting coordination in the identification process.
The nationalities of these victims are not yet confirmed, he said outside a legislature meeting.
“It takes time because [British police] only accept DNA results,” Son said.
The Vietnamese foreign ministry is formulating detailed action plans for the scenario that one or more Vietnamese nationals were among the victims, he added.