HANOI • Police in Vietnam have arrested eight people in relation to the discovery of 39 dead Vietnamese in a truck near London last month, state media said yesterday.
British police last week charged two men with manslaughter over the deaths of the group, whose bodies were found inside a container on the truck on Oct 23.
"Based on what we learn from the suspects, we will actively launch investigations to fight and eradicate these rings which take people illegally to Britain," said Nghe An province police chief Nguyen Huu Cau, according to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).
"The best thing to do now is to deal with the consequences of the incident and help family members receive the bodies," Mr Cau added.
Mr Cau said police were treating the tragedy as a smuggling incident, rather than a case of people-trafficking, according to VNA.
Most of the victims were from the neighbouring provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, in north-central Vietnam, where poor job prospects, encouragement by the authorities, smuggling gangs and environmental disaster all contribute to the wave of migrants.
Last Friday, police in Ha Tinh said they had arrested two people and summoned others for questioning on suspicion of involvement in the incident.
The discovery of the bodies has shone a spotlight on the illicit trade that sends the poor of Asia, Africa and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.
The alleged truck driver has already been charged over the deaths, and detectives said last Friday Eamon Harrison, 23, from Northern Ireland, was also accused of 39 counts of manslaughter as well as human trafficking and immigration offences.
On Sunday, a delegation of Vietnamese diplomats and police left for Britain, where they were expected to meet their British counterparts, Vietnam's government website said yesterday.