PM orders investigation into overseas trafficking of Vietnamese citizens

By Hoang Thuy   October 26, 2019 | 09:17 pm GMT+7
PM orders investigation into overseas trafficking of Vietnamese citizens
British police forensics officers work on the truck, found to be containing 39 dead bodies, at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019. Photo by AFP.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered a probe into the trafficking of Vietnamese citizens amid public concerns that many of the 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck in the U.K. are Vietnamese.

Phuc asked the Ministry of Public Security, Foreign Ministry and two central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh on Saturday to probe the tragedy in the U.K. 

"[You] must investigate and find out cases of Vietnamese citizens being brought illegally to foreign countries and strictly handle the violations," the PM said in a Government Office release.

The premier also asked the Foreign Ministry to direct the Vietnamese Embassy in the U.K. to closely monitor the situation and coordinate with the British authorities to verify the victims' identities. The embassy should also take protective measures in case there are Vietnamese citizens involved.

Concerned agencies must report to the PM no later than November 5, the release added.

On October 23, U.K. emergency services discovered the bodies of 38 adults and one teenager, suspected immigrants, after being alerted that there were people in a refrigerated container truck at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex County, east of London.

Three people, including the truck driver, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter, the British police said Friday, in the first indication from officials that the deaths were linked to human smuggling.

Police initially said they believed the dead were Chinese but Beijing said Saturday the nationalities had not yet been confirmed. 

Chinese and Vietnamese officials are now both working closely with the British police, their respective embassies said.

13 Vietnamese families in central Vietnam have reported that their children have been missing in the U.K. since Wednesday, October 23.

A man in Nghe An Province reported his son has been missing in the U.K. following the U.K. polices discovery of a refrigerated truck with 39 dead bodies inside, on October 23. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai.

A man in Nghe An Province reported his son has been missing in the U.K. following the British police's discovery of a refrigerated truck with 39 dead bodies inside, on October 23, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai.

Pham Van Thin, a resident of Nghen Town, Can Loc District, Ha Tinh Province, had sent a letter to the local authorities Friday, saying his daughter Pham Thi Tra My was likely one of the 39 people found dead in the container truck in the U.K.

In Pham Thi Tra My's last text message to her mother, which was released by her family, My wrote that she was struggling to breathe and apologised.

"I'm sorry Dad and Mom. The way I went overseas was not successful," the 26-year-old wrote. "Mom, I love Dad and you so much. I'm dying because I can't breathe."

A screenshot shows that the message, translated into English by a family acquaintance, was received at 4.28 a.m. on October 23 in Vietnam. This would have been 10.28 p.m. UK time, about four hours before the ambulance was called and the bodies were discovered.

The Vietnamese ambassador to the U.K. on Friday had a call with the British Interior Minister about the case. The embassy’s representative in London also had a meeting with the U.K.'s National Crime Agency and Essex County Police about the 39 deaths, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry said in a press release Saturday. 

On Saturday morning, the Vietnamese ambassador and some embassy officials also came to the tragic scene to work with local authorities. 

In 2000, 58 Chinese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Dover, Britain’s busiest port. The authorities said they had asphyxiated in the container, in which cooling and ventilation were switched off.

 
 
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