11/02/2019, 12.07
UNITED KINGDOM – VIETNAM
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Bodies in refrigerated truck in Essex are all Vietnamese

British police are in “direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK” and the Vietnamese government. The identities of the bodies still have to be confirmed by the competent authorities. The inquiry into the smuggling network continues. A man arrested in Dublin is set to be extradited to the United Kingdom whilst police are still looking for two Northern Irish brothers.

London (AsiaNews/Agencies) – All 39 people found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex (south-east England) on 23 October were Vietnamese.

At first, the British authorities thought the victims were Chinese. Now Essex Police said it was in “direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK" and the Vietnamese government.

“At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals,” said Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, adding that police were not in a position to identify any of the victims.

In a statement, the Vietnamese Embassy in London stated it was "deeply saddened" and sent its "heartfelt condolences" to the families of the victims.

"Specific identities of the victims still need to be identified and confirmed by the relevant authorities of Vietnam and UK," the statement noted.

Post-mortem examinations are underway on the 31 men and eight women to establish whether they froze or suffocated to death.

Meanwhile, the inquiry into the criminal network responsible for the tragedy continues.

Yesterday morning, police in Vietnam’s north-central province of Hà Tĩnh said it charged two people with “organising or brokering illegal immigration”.

On Monday, the 25-year-old lorry driver, Maurice Robinson, from Northern Ireland, appeared in court in Chelmsford charged with a string of offences, including manslaughter, human trafficking, illegal immigration and money laundering.

British authorities have also begun extradition proceedings against 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, who was arrested in Dublin on a European Arrest Warrant.

Police are also seeking two brothers, equally from Northern Ireland, Ronan and Christopher Hughes, who are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking.

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