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All victims in Essex truck deaths thought to be Vietnamese: UK police

Saturday, November 02, 2019, 08:43 GMT+7
All victims in Essex truck deaths thought to be Vietnamese: UK police
Candles are lit for 39 victims in the Essex truck deaths case in the UK. Photo: Reuters

UK police said on Friday they believe all victims found dead in a truck container in Essex on October 23 are Vietnamese, adding that they have identified some of the victims and have contacted the Vietnamese Government and some families in the UK and Vietnam.

"At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals, and we are in contact with the Vietnamese government," Essex police Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said on Twitter.

"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," he added. 

In a statement on late Friday, Essex police said 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,” said the statement.

“As a result, we cannot at this time announce the identity of any of the victims.”

Essex police said it will continue to cooperate closely with the Vietnamese Government, and others, to identify the victims and offer support to all those affected by this tragedy.

Following the police’s announcement, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Tran Ngoc An said despite being mentally prepared for the worst possible possibilities, he is “shocked and deeply saddened” when officially informed by the UK police, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

He expressed “deep sympathy” to the families of the victims.

The ambassador added that he had met UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, and the embassy will continue to work with UK agencies on handling the case.

“The embassy will continue to coordinate closely with relevant agencies of Vietnam and the UK to help families of Vietnamese victims (if any) repatriate the victims’ bodies,” the Vietnamese Embassy in London said in a statement quoted by the Vietnam News Agency.

“We strongly condemn the inhumane actions of illegal immigrant traffickers, which have caused a tragedy for the victims and their families,” the statement reads.

“Vietnam will work closely with the UK to bring these criminals to justice and seek effective measures to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.”

The embassy said it has received around 300 calls providing information and asking for support in searching for missing people since British police found 39 people dead inside a container of a truck at an industrial estate in Essex, about 32 kilometers from central London, on October 23.

Essex police are hunting two suspects, Ronan Hughes and Christopher Hughes both from North Ireland, in relation to the case.

Earlier, Maurice Robinson and Laurel Drive have been charged with 39 offences of manslaughter, as well as human trafficking and immigration offences.

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