Vietnam’s government has expressed its sadness after learning that the migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex are believed to be from the country, calling it a “serious humanitarian tragedy”.
Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on Saturday: “This is a serious humanitarian tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the incident and wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families.
“We wish they may soon overcome those tremendous pain and losses.”
She added that the Vietnamese embassy in London was co-operating with authorities to support families of the victims and help confirm the identities of those found, and that the country’s Ministry of Public Security would publish its findings as soon as possible.
Ms Hang also said: “Vietnam strongly condemns human trafficking and considers it a serious crime subject to strict penalties.
“Vietnam calls upon countries in the region and around the world to step up co-operation in combating human trafficking in order to prevent the recurrence of such tragedy.”
She continued: “We are grateful that the British government and other relevant authorities have actively conducted the investigation, timely provided identification information to and worked in close co-ordination with the Vietnamese competent authorities.
“We hope that the British side [will] soon complete the investigation to bring those responsible for this tragedy to justice.”
The comments come after Essex Police announced that it believed it knew where all 39 victims came from.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said: “We are in direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK, and we believe we have identified families for some of the victims whose journey ended in tragedy on our shores.”
He added that Essex Police were waiting for “confirmatory evidence”, so that a case can be presented to the coroner.
Mr Smith said: “This evidence is being gathered across a number of jurisdictions worldwide. As a result, we cannot at this time announce the identity of any of the victims.”
The update from the police comes after it began extradition proceedings in an effort to bring 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison from Ireland to the UK, who appeared at Dublin’s High Court on Friday, charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as human trafficking and immigration offences.
Harrison, from Newry in Co Down, Northern Ireland was remanded in custody.
Police are also urging 40-year-old Ronan Hughes and his brother, Christopher, 34, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, to hand themselves in as it is believed they have links with haulage and shipping.
Ronan Hughes was thought to have spoken to police shortly after the lorry’s driver, 25-year-old Mo Robinson, was arrested after the discovery of the bodies.
Three others, two men aged 38 and 46, as well as a 38-year-old woman have also been arrested, and subsequently released on bail.
Local media in Vietnam reported that police in the Ha Tinh province arrested two people in connection with the deaths after an investigation was launched when 10 families said they had lost contact with their relatives.
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