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Container Migrant Deaths: All 39 victims Vietnamese, most from same village

Pham Thi Tra My and Nguyen Dinh Luong's families are concerned they may be among the victims

PortandTerminal.com, November 2, 2019

The bodies of 39 Asians found in a refrigerated truck trailer near a port in England were initially thought to be Chinese nationals. It has now been discovered that all victims were Vietnamese, most from the same part of Vietnam

ESSEX, ENGLAND – All 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex were Vietnamese, police have said.

The victims were found in a container on an industrial estate last week and were initially thought to be Chinese.

But Essex Police said it was now in “direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK” and the Vietnamese government.

My trip to a foreign land has failed

Final text message sent to family member from victim Pham Thi Tra My

A number of Vietnamese families have previously come forward fearing their loved ones are among the dead.

Le Minh Tuan, pictured here, fears his son Le Van Ha was among the dead in Essex

Pham Thi Tra My, 26, sent her family a message on Tuesday night, saying her “trip to a foreign land has failed”.

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out on the 31 men and eight women to establish the cause of death.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said: “At this time, we believe the victims are Vietnamese nationals, and we are in contact with the Vietnamese Government.”

He said police were not in a position to identify any of the victims.

Why are the victims all Vietnamese?

Newly-built houses are seen at Do Thanh commune, in Nghe An province, Vietnam October 29, 2019. Picture taken October 29, 2019. (REUTERS/Kham)

Vietnamese migrants pay thousands of dollars to dangerous trafficking operations in order to travel to Europe. The migrants believe the money they can earn once they are there makes the trip worth the risk.

“I went from Vietnam to France legally, but from France to the UK illegally inside a container truck,” “I chose to go to the UK because the salary is very good and so many people from (my village) already lived there.”

Vietnamese migrant interviewed by VOA

The World Bank says overseas workers sent nearly $16 billion in remittances to Vietnam in 2018. That is more than two times the Southeast Asian country’s trade surplus for the same period. 

It is believed most of those who died in the Essex refrigerated container all came from the same district in Vietnam, Yen Thanh, in Nghe An province. The newly-built houses you see in this district are evidence of the money to be made, and saved, by working overseas. A billion Vietnamese dong is worth about $43,000 U.S. dollars. That amount of money can buy a lot in rural Vietnam.

Britain appears to be the preferred destination by most willing and able to afford the fees to take the risk, The amounts people pay vary, from around £10,000 to well over £30,000. The higher sum is supposed to be for a “VIP service”.

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