the first bodies repatriated to Vietnam

The arrival of coffins at Hanoi airport, Wednesday, November 27. Vietnam News Agency / AP

The first bodies of Vietnamese migrants found dead at the end of October in a refrigerated truck near London were repatriated Wednesday, November 27 in Vietnam, after painful weeks waiting for their families, who will be able to organize the funeral.

The Vietnam Airlines plane from the United Kingdom landed at Hanoi airport early in the morning "With 16 bodies on board"said an Agence France-Presse (AFP) an airport security officer on condition of anonymity.

Read also Massive truck in Britain: the thirty-nine victims were Vietnamese

They were quickly put on board several vehicles that must take them to the various provinces of central Vietnam, where they originate. Several hundred people gathered in Dien Chau district to greet, with white flowers in their hands, two cousins, aged 18 and 33, who are among the 39 victims of the tragedy. "They were good men, they just wanted to make money for the family", said a neighbor to AFP. The remaining 23 bodies are expected to be repatriated in the coming days.

Families in debt

The bodies of 31 men and 8 women, including two 15-year-old boys, were found on 23 October, packed in a container in the industrial area of ​​Grays, East London. The container came from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

This drama, which has raised an international outcry, has highlighted the dangers faced by illegal immigrants, particularly because of unscrupulous traffickers who take advantage of their vulnerability. Vietnamese who migrate illegally often end up in illegal nail bars or cannabis farms in the UK, reduced to a state of semi-slavery.

Read also The discovery of 39 dead bodies in a truck in the UK, macabre illustration of human trafficking

Many of the victims were from poor areas of central Vietnam, who live as well as they can from fishing, agriculture or industry. And families go into debt for thousands of dollars to send one of them to the United Kingdom. They had to borrow more for the funeral.

The driver pleaded guilty

Sixteen coffins arrived in Vietnam on Wednesday to be handed over to the families of victims, more than a month after the discovery of bodies in the United Kingdom.
Sixteen coffins arrived in Vietnam on Wednesday to be handed over to the families of victims, more than a month after the discovery of bodies in the United Kingdom. Vietnam News Agency / AP

Two options were proposed to them by the authorities: to pay $ 1,774 to bring back the ashes for a cremation, or $ 2,858 for the body to be returned to a coffin.

Despite the added cost, most have opted for a traditional burial, in keeping with tradition in the Vietnamese countryside. "Work hard to pay mom (…) I'm dying, I can not breathe anymore ", wrote one of the victims in chilling SMS, sent to her mother and brother shortly before the discovery of the 39 bodies.

Read also Massive truck in Britain: eight new arrests in Vietnam

Some had arrived in Europe several months ago and had found odd jobs in France, Germany or Romania before attempting the trip to Britain. Others had arrived more recently.

On Monday, the driver of the refrigerated truck, accused of manslaughter, pleaded guilty in London to help with illegal immigration. Originally from Northern Ireland, Maurice Robinson, 25, also pleaded guilty to taking a profit from this activity. As a result of this tragedy, several people were arrested in the United Kingdom and at least ten Vietnamese were arrested in their country, but none have been formally charged to date.


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