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Essex truck deaths: 39 victims confirmed as Vietnamese

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-11-07 22:02

Police move the lorry container where bodies were discovered, in Grays, Essex, Britain October 23, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

The Vietnamese Ministry for Public Security has confirmed that all 39 people found dead in a container truck in southeast England last month were Vietnamese.  

The ministry said that the victims came from six provinces in Vietnam: Haiphong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Hue. 

"As of 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security and British authorities had been able to confirm that all of the 39 victims found dead in Essex on Oct. 23 were Vietnamese," the ministry said in a statement.

Essex police had previously stated that the victims were from China, before confirming last week that they are now working with Vietnamese authorities on the case. 

On Thursday, Essex Senior Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said all the victims have now been identified and their families have been notified of their deaths. 

"May I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to the victims' families," Beasley-Murray said. 

The senior officer in charge of the enquiry, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, said that he is working with Vietnamese police to provide support for the families of the victims. 

"It is only right that we provide an opportunity for family members to take in the news confirming the death of their loved ones before releasing any further information," said Smith. "Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those whose tragic journey ended on our shores."

Essex police are working with the National Crime Agency and European law enforcement as the investigation continues. Bulgarian authorities say the truck is registered in Bulgaria to a female Northern Ireland citizen. Police have not revealed if they know where in Europe the victims boarded the container. 

The driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Another man was arrested last week in Ireland, and two others in Vietnam. 

In a separate incidence on Wednesday, British police arrested 15 people found alive in a container truck near Wiltshire. The men were arrested on suspicion of entering the UK illegally. The driver, a man from Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal entry.

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