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October 29, 2019

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UK, Vietnam seek verification on truck victims

BRITISH authorities have sent Vietnam records of four victims among the 39 dead in a refrigerated truck in the British county of Essex for identity verification, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

“Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has received the files for connecting the information and verify the victims’ identification,” the Vietnam News Agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son as saying yesterday.

On the same day, British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward held meeting with representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security to further exchange information regarding the case.

“At this time, we have not received confirmation as to who these people are, and where they are from,” the ambassador said in a statement yesterday, adding that he had discussed with the ministry on how they would work closely together during the process of victim identification.

Working groups of the Ministry of Public Security have come to central Nghe An and Ha Tinh province to assess information of the missing cases reported recently and investigate whether they were illegally taken abroad, reported the Vietnam News Agency.

As of yesterday, 24 families from the two provinces — 14 from Nghe An and 10 from Ha Tinh — have reported their relatives missing in Britain and Europe following the Essex lorry incident, according to Thanh Nien newspaper.

Police from the two provinces have taken hair and nail samples from families who reported missing members feared to be among the deceased 39 for verification purposes.

Thirty-nine bodies, including eight women and 31 men, were found on October 23 in a refrigerated lorry container traveling to Britain from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

UK police initially said all the victims were Chinese.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested the country’s Ministry of Public Security, in collaboration with other government agencies and provincial authorities of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, to urgently verify information and investigate cases of illegally taking Vietnamese nationals abroad.

He also asked the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry to closely monitor the situation and work with relevant British agencies to confirm the victims’ identity.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had instructed its embassy in London to assist British police with the identification of victims.

“So far, the British police said it still could not confirm the nationalities of the victims; the Chinese Embassy in the UK has been in close contact with the UK side and asked the UK to provide more effective information to verify the identity of the victims,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

No matter where the victims came from, this is a very sad tragedy, Geng said.

“The issue of illegal migration and human trafficking is a global challenge that requires joint efforts to combat. China is ready to work with all parties to make active efforts on it,” Geng added.


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