Vietnamese families want bodies of loved ones repatriated from UK

By Nguyen Hai, Duc Hung, Viet Tuan   November 25, 2019 | 12:59 am PT
Vietnamese families want bodies of loved ones repatriated from UK
People pray for Vietnamese victims in the U.K. truck disaster at a church in Nghe An Province, where most of the victims were from. Photo by Reuters.
Most families want the bodies of loved ones lost in the U.K. truck tragedy repatriated; a few have opted for ashes.

Authorities in Vietnam and the U.K. are going to review relevant papers one last time before repatriating the bodies of 39 people found in a refrigerated truck last month.

Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said Monday that preparatory work to bring back the bodies of the 39 Vietnamese victims is nearly complete.

"Authorities of both countries are working closely to help Vietnamese families to receive the bodies of their loved ones in coffins or as ashes at the earliest. However, the repatriation of the bodies depends on approval from the British judge overseeing the case," Son said.

Also Monday, authorities in the central province of Nghe An, home to a majority of the victims at 21 people, said 19 families have expressed their wishes to receive the bodies of their loved ones in a coffin while two agreed to receive the ashes of their relatives.

In neighboring Ha Tinh Province, all the 10 families wanted to get back their children's bodies. One of them said they would accept ashes if the procedures were too complicated.

Other victims came from Hai Phong and Hai Duong in northern Vietnam, and the central provinces of Quang Binh and Thua Thien-Hue.

Vietnam is discussing with U.K. authorities the technical issues regarding the transferring of remains, including the flight schedule, officials said.

Earlier, Son had said the government has decided to make advance payments to make sure the victims are brought home as soon as possible. It will cost $1,771 to receive the victim’s ashes and $2,855 for the bodies to be brought back in coffins.

Earlier this month, authorities released the identities of all 39 Vietnamese killed in the truck disaster. The youngest victim was 15 years old and the oldest was 44.

So far, British police have arrested six people for their involvement in the truck disaster. Among them, Christopher Kennedy, 23, of Northern Ireland, charged with human trafficking, was due to appear in court Monday.

The truck driver, Maurice Robinson, also of Northern Ireland, who has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and money laundering, is also due to appear in court for the second time on Monday.

In Vietnam, police have arrested 11 people, nine in the central province of Nghe An and the two others in neighboring Ha Tinh Province, for suspected human trafficking.

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