First of Essex lorry bodies returned to Vietnam
[ Sixteen of the 39 deceased flown to Hanoi, with the rest to be repatriated later, say officials and media]
By The Guardian
The first 16 bodies of 39 Vietnamese people found dead in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Britain have been repatriated to Vietnam, according to a local official and Vietnamese media.
“Sixteen bodies including five from Nghe An province have arrived in Vietnam,” said a senior official of the province. The bodies arrived at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi early on Wednesday, online newspaper VnExpress reported, and would be taken by ambulances to homes in Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces. The remaining bodies would be repatriated later, VnExpress said.
Vietnamese police have said the deceased came from six provinces: Haiphong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Hue. Their families were plagued by confusion and anguish over how to get the bodies home.
Man arrested in east London over Essex lorry deaths case
The families would have to pay for the repatriation costing up to £2,208, according to a foreign ministry statement seen by Reuters. The statement, dated 14 November, said the Vietnamese government would advance the payment which families could repay later.
Though relatives were encouraged by authorities to opt for ashes “to ensure speed, low cost and sanitation safety”, many paid more for the bodies to carry out traditional burials. Cremation is rare in the Vietnam countryside, where many of the victims were from.
On Monday the Northern Irish driver of the truck, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson, pleaded guilty to conspiring to assist illegal immigration. He also admitted to acquiring cash that came from criminal conduct, but did not plead guilty to 41 other charges. Several other people have been arrested in the UK while Vietnam has held at least 10 people, though none have been formally charged.
( With Reuters and AFP)