British police say three boys among Vietnamese truck victims, consulting over repatriation

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In a photo taken on Oct 26, Catholics attend a mass prayer for 39 people found dead in the back of a truck near London at My Khanh parish in Nghe An province, Vietnam. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP/REUTERS) - British police on Friday (Nov 8) named the 39 Vietnamese people who died in a refrigerated truck last month, with the youngest aged just 15 and many of them from the same province.

Ten teenagers including two 15-year-old boys were among the victims whose bodies were found on October 23 in a container in the south-eastern English region of Essex.

Police said last week they believed all were Vietnamese and announced on Friday they had completed the identification process with Vietnamese officials, revealing that nine of the victims were teenagers. Two were aged just 15 and another was 17, while the oldest was 44.

British police said consultations had begun with Hanoi over repatriation of the bodies.

"This was an incredibly important process and our team has been working hard to bring answers to worried families who fear their loved one may be among those whose tragic journey ended on our shores," said Tim Smith, the Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police.

"It remained of paramount importance to us to ensure that an individual's next of kin were informed and that they were given some time to absorb this tragic news before we publicly confirmed their loved one's identity."

Police said the Vietnamese and British governments were working on how to achieve repatriation of the bodies. The exact cause of the deaths has not yet been disclosed.

The bodies of the 31 males and eight women were found in a truck container on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, not far from docks on the River Thames, in the early hours of Oct 23. The victims were found not long after the container arrived in Britain from Zeebrugge in Belgium. The refrigerated unit was picked up at Purfleet dock, east of London, while police believe the truck cab was driven over from Ireland.

The driver of the lorry has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, and money laundering. A second man has been charged with the same offences and British authorities are now in the process of trying to extradite him from Dublin.

They are also hunting for two brothers from Northern Ireland while Vietnamese police have arrested 10 people there in connection with the deaths.

Police said the Vietnamese and British governments were working on how to achieve repatriation of the bodies.

The majority of victims, 20, were from the central Vietnamese region of Nghe An, with another 10 from Ha Tinh. The victims were from a total of seven different provinces.

One of the youngest was Nguyen Huy Hung, a 15-year-old boy from Nghi Xuan district in Ha Tinh province.

He left his rural village for Britain where his parents both live. His sister, who lives in South Korea, posted on Facebook that her younger brother was missing.

Another victim was Hoang Van Tiep, an 18-year-old from Dien Chau district, Nghe An province, left a year ago for France where he worked as a dishwasher.

On October 21, two days before the truck was found, he wrote to his family asking for US$13,000 to pay to smugglers for his trip to the UK, the last they heard from him. He had travelled to France with his cousin, Nguyen Van Hung, 33, who was also identified as a victim. He got a falsified passport last year and left without telling his parents.

Police have named the victims as follows:

From Ha Tinh province: Pham Thi Tra My, 26; Nguyen Dinh Lurong, 20; Nguyen Huy Phong, 35; Vo Nhan Du, 19; Tran Manh Hung, 37; Tran Khanh Tho, 18; Vo Van Linh, 25; Nguyen Van Nhan, 33; Bui Phan Thang, 37 and Nguyen Huy Hung, 15.

From Nghe An province: Tran Thi Tho, 21; Bui Thi Nhung, 19; Vo Ngoc Nam, 28; Nguyen Dinh Tu, 26; Le Van Ha, 30; Tran Thi Ngoc, 19; Nguyen Van Hung, 33; Hoang Van Tiep, 18; Cao Tien Dung, 37; Cao Huy Thanh, 33; Tran Thi Mai Nhung, 18; Nguyen Minh Quang, 20.

Also from Nghe An: Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, 28; Hoang Van Hoi, 24; Nguyen Tho Tuan, 25; Dang Huu Tuyen, 22; Nguyen Trong Thai, 26; Nguyen Van Hiep, 24; Nguyen Thi Van, 35; Tran Hai Loc, 35.

Other areas: Le Trong Thanh, 44, from Dien Chau; Duong Minh Tuan, 27, from Quang Binh; Nguyen Ngoc Ha, 32, from Quang Binh; Nguyen Tien Dung, 33, from Quang Binh; Phan Thi Thanh, 41, from Hai Phong; Nguyen Ba Vu Hung, 34, from Thua Tien Hue; Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, 18, from Hai Phong; Tran Ngoc Hieu, 17, from Hai Duong; Dinh Dinh Binh 15, from Hai Phong.

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