LOOK: First bodies returned to Vietnam a month after lorry tragedy
Hanoi - After an agonizing wait, the bodies of some of the 39
migrants found dead in a lorry in England last month were repatriated
to Vietnam on Wednesday.
Vietnam's foreign ministry said 16 bodies were repatriated on
Wednesday morning. The rest will reportedly be brought back
imminently, although the timeline remains unclear.
"My daughter's body is on the way back home from [Hanoi] airport,"
Pham Van Thin, the father of 26-year-old victim Pham Thi Tra My,
"Her body will arrive home at about 1 or 2 pm today [0600-0700 GMT].
We will organize the funeral today and then a burial for her at 3 pm
Thin added that local authorities would not allow the family to go to
the airport to escort the coffin back.
"They may be afraid our weeping will interrupt their work," she said.
My's text message to her mother saying "I'm sorry mum ... I'm dying
because I can't breathe" first alerted the world of the possibility
that Vietnamese nationals could be among the dead after British
police initially said that all 39 victims were Chinese.
Shortly after the aircraft landed, representatives of victims'
families from Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces received the
bodies of 16 victims and began the process of transporting them to
the families, the statement said.
Airport personnel load a coffin into an ambulance at the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam. The bodies of 16 of the 39 Vietnamese who died when human traffickers carried them by truck to England last month have been repatriated to their homeland. Picture: Vietnam News Agency via AP
"Our district arranged and sent eight ambulances to [Hanoi] airport
on Tuesday evening in order to carry eight bodies back home and hand
them over them to their families," said Bui Huy Cuong, deputy
chairman of Can Loc District in Ha Tinh province, where ten of the
victims were from.
The bodies of the Vietnamese migrants were first discovered in the
back of a refrigerated lorry on October 23 in Essex, in south-east
The long delay and confusion over costs of repatriation have caused
extra grief for families desperate to bring their loved ones home.
The families will have to pay for the repatriations themselves, with
the Vietnamese government offering to pay upfront and giving
relatives 30 days to pay the money back interest-free, the Vietnamese
The relatives were offered two choices: either the family has to pay
almost 1,800 dollars to receive their loved ones cremated as ashes,
or over 2,800 dollars for the body to be sent to Hanoi airport.
A convoy of ambulances leaves the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam. Picture: VnExpress via AP
The news led to philanthropic responses from both concerned
individuals and companies.
A page on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe has raised over 27,000
dollars, while Vingroup, a Vietnamese conglomerate, has pledged to
donate 800 dollars to each of the victims' families in Nghe An and Ha
Do Thi Kim Lien, a Vietnamese businesswoman, has also been donating
funds to the families to allow them to repatriate the bodies of their
Hundreds of Vietnamese are trafficked to Britain each year, according
to the charity Ecpat.