First bodies of UK truck victims arrive home
0 month ago, 27-Nov-2019
Ambulances carrying the bodies of John Hoang Van Tiep and John Nguyen Van Hung, victims who were found dead in the back of a British truck last month, are surrounded by relatives and villagers in front of a church at homeland in Nghe An province, Vietnam.
DIEN CHAU, Vietnam: The first remains of the 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain last month arrived in Vietnam yesterday where they were met by huge crowds of sobbing relatives who have been waiting weeks for their return.
Sixteen bodies were flown from London to Hanoi, where they were quickly shuttled in ambulances to their hometowns in central Vietnam.
Hundreds of people filled the compound of a church in rural Dien Chau district in central Nghe An province to greet two returned bodies, many carrying white flowers to offer the families of the dead. The cousin of 33-year-old victim Nguyen Van Hung waited hours in the crowd near the town church.
Relatives of Nguyen cry while following an ambulance that carries his body upon arrival at homeland in Nghe An province. Reuters photos
He was a nice man. No one expected him to return home like this, said the cousin, refusing to be named, as relatives wept nearby.
Hung was among 31 men and eight women found dead in a refrigerated truck in an industrial park in Essex, east of London, on Octo 23.
Victims relatives have taken out hefty loans from the government to cover the cost of repatriation: US$1,800 to bring back ashes, or US$2,900 for the cost of a coffin carrying the body.
Authorities in Vietnam encouraged relatives to opt for ashes to ensure speed, low cost and sanitation safety, but many paid more for the bodies so they could carry out traditional burials.
Cremation is rare in the Vietnam countryside, where many of the victims were from.
Some funerals were due to start Wednesday and burials could take place later this week.
Relatives of John Hoang stand near his coffin.
The rest of the remains are expected to arrive in Vietnam this weekend, though officials have not announced the schedule.
All 16 victims whose bodies came back on Wednesday hailed from three provinces Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh.
It was a painful homecoming for families who have been suspended in grief for weeks anticipating their relatives return.
We have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. We will organise the funeral as soon as hes returned, said Vo Van Binh, whose son Vo Van Linh was among the victims.
We are very sad but happy as finally my son is back, he told AFP from central Ha Tinh province, where the family had gathered awaiting the arrival of Linhs body.
The tragedy exposed the dangers of illegal journeys from Vietnam to the United Kingdom, a top destination for migrants from Vietnam.
Most of the victims hailed from just a handful of central Vietnamese provinces, which are among the poorest in the country and where well-entrenched networks of brokers help to facilitate the risky trips abroad.
Ten of the dead were teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys.
Britains ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward sent his condolences to families yesterday in a video message, saying it was a very difficult time.
He promised families the UK and Vietnam would cooperate to prevent human trafficking and protect vulnerable people here. AFP
Live Website Traffic