Police investigators in the United Kingdom has said that 10 teenagers were among the 39 people found dead in an abandoned truck container.
UK police also confirmed that all 39 victims in the truck were Vietnamese. Their bodies were discovered in Grays, a small town in southeast England.
Details of the failed human trafficking plot which occurred in last month was released by local police—for the first time—on Friday. Two of the dead were identified as 15-year-olds, and the oldest among them was just 44 years old. The tragic incident is Britain’s worst case of people smuggling.
Police said 20 of the identified victims were from a province in Nghe An, located in northcentral Vietnam—about 120 miles from Hanoi.
UK policed decided to complete the entire identification process before releasing details of the deceased, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said. “Our priority has been to identify the victims, to preserve the dignity of those who have died and to support the victims’ friends and families.”
“It remained of paramount importance to us to ensure that an individual’s next of kin were informed, and that they were given some time to absorb this tragic news before we publicly confirmed their loved one’s identity,” Smith added.
Authorities in the UK collaborated with the coroner and Vietnamese police to unravel mysteries surrounding the 23 October incident.
Police revealed DNA samples were taken from all Vietnamese citizens who suspected their missing relatives could have been on that abandoned truck found in an industrial park in Grays.
One of the travellers was earlier identified as Pham Thi Tra My, a 26-year-old Vietnamese whose heart-breaking message to her mother—at the point of death—clearly explained the many risks of illegal migration. “I’m so sorry mom and dad…. My journey abroad doesn’t succeed,” she wrote. “Mom, I love you and dad very much. I’m dying because I can’t breathe …. Mom, I’m so sorry.”
Pham’s family said they were unable to contact her after receiving that final text message about suffocating.
Media reports confirm that a 22-year-old Irish named Eamonn Harrison was arrested on a British warrant. Meanwhile, Essex Police in Britain said have started extradition proceedings to bring him to the U.K. to face charges of manslaughter. Vietnam police also confirmed they had arrested some suspected members of the human trafficking.