Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam on Wednesday held a phone conversation with British Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss the coordination of work on identifying victims suspected to be Vietnamese nationals in an incident where 39 people were found dead inside a truck in Essex last week.
The verification of information and identities of the victims is “very urgent,” and the Vietnamese ministry is ready to send working teams to the UK to work with British police to investigate and verify the victims, Minister Lam said.
British police found the bodies of the 39 victims, including eight women and 31 men, in the refrigerated container of a semi-trailer truck at an industrial park in Essex, about 32 kilometers from central London, on October 23, Reuters reported.
Initially, Essex police said the victims were all “believed to be Chinese nationals,” according to the BBC.
However, more than a dozen Vietnamese families in the north-central provinces of Ha Tinh and Nge An have contacted authorities to ask for help in finding out whether their relatives were among the 39 victims.
The Vietnamese government, the Ministry of Public Security, and the people of Vietnam are very attentive to and regret the incident in Essex, Lam told Patel on Wednesday, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Lam said the ministry had directed its units to verify identities, collect information, and be prepared to work with their UK counterparts after it received reports that some Vietnamese nationals might be among the 39 victims.
The Vietnamese minister thanked the British secretary for her goodwill in cooperating and sharing information on the incident, affirming that the ministry will continue to work closely with relevant British authorities to investigate the case.
The minister also sought the UK’s support in facilitating citizen protection in line with British and Vietnamese laws, as well as international law and practices in case some of the victims do turn out to be Vietnamese.
|Pham Van Thin (L), father of Pham Thi Tra My, who is suspected to be among 39 victims found dead in a truck in Essex, the UK on October 23, 2019, talks with reporters about the details of My’s journey from Vietnam to Britain. Photo: Van Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
In related news, police in the north-central province of Ha Tinh on Wednesday night launched criminal proceedings for a case of human trafficking involving locals, provincial deputy police chief Nguyen Tien Nam confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day.
Investigators are already working on leads linked to an organized ring that has been illegally sending Vietnamese citizens overseas since 2016, Nam said.
On Monday, police took DNA samples from nine families in Ha Tinh to assist in the identification of the 39 Essex victims.