Vietnam's Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday called the deaths of 39 people in a lorry container in England last month a ‘serious humanitarian tragedy’ after British police announced that all victims are believed to be Vietnamese.
‘We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest sympathy to families of the victims and hope they will soon overcome such a huge loss,’ ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.
‘We hope that the British side would soon complete the investigation to bring those responsible for this tragedy to justice,’ Hang added.
On Friday, British police said in a statement that all 39 bodies found in the lorry container in Essex are believed to be Vietnamese.
‘At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals, and we are in contact with the Vietnamese Government,’ Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police Tim Smith said in a statement Friday evening.
Essex police said that they cannot announce the identity of the victims at this time, but they have managed to get in touch with many of the families.
After British police discovered the bodies on October 23, they initially suggested that all of the victims were Chinese. This assumption was called into question over the past week as several Vietnamese families came forward with stories about missing loved ones whom they feared were among the dead.
As many as 28 families had reported missing relatives in the central Vietnamese provinces of Ha Tinh and Nghe An, according to local media reports.
Vietnamese authorities have since launched a crackdown on human trafficking, with six arrests made in the past week. Two are believed to be linked to the lorry deaths in Britain.
Hundreds of Vietnamese nationals are trafficked to Britain each year, according to the charity Ecpat.
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