Eight arrested in Vietnam in connection with Essex lorry deaths
4 November 2019, 07:57 | Updated: 4 November 2019, 08:36
Eight people have reportedly been arrested in Vietnam in connection with the discovery of the bodies of 39 migrants in the back of a lorry container in Essex.
The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of October 23.
According to reports in Vietnam, eight people were arrested in the country today in connection with the deaths.
Nghe An province police chief Nguyen Huu Cau told Vietnam News Agency (VNA): "Based on what we learn from the suspects, we will actively launch investigations to fight and eradicate these rings which bring people illegally to Britain."
Last night members of the Vietnamese community gathered in London for a vigil in memory of the victims.
The service was attended by more than 100 people at the Church of the Holy Name and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in east London.
Candles arranged to read "39" were at the foot of the altar ahead of the service in the Catholic church, which has a large Vietnamese congregation
Reverend Simon Nguyen said: "Today we gather to remember the people who have departed.
"These people who used to live among us, who dined with us.
"Today they are no longer with us."
Members of the congregation performed readings as part of the vigil and candles were lit.
Addressing the congregation, Rev Nguyen said: "Yesterday the police in Essex announced all the victims were Vietnamese.
"We show our condolences and sympathies for the people who have lost their lives on the way seeking freedom, dignity and happiness.
"We ask God to welcome them into his kingdom even though some of them were not Catholic but they strongly believed in eternal peace, so we pray for them.
"We pray for those who have lost their sons and daughters, their loved ones at this very challenging time."
On Friday, Essex Police announced that it believed all the victims were Vietnamese after previously stating it was thought they were Chinese.
Essex Police said it was now in "direct contact with a number of families in Vietnam and the UK" and the Vietnamese Government.
A number of families have already come forward to express fears their loved ones are among the dead.
Pham Thi Tra My, 26, sent her family a heartbreaking message on the night of 22 October - the day before the 39 people were found dead - saying her "trip to a foreign land has failed".
The father of 30-year-old Le Van Ha, who comes from an agricultural part of Vietnam, has said he is convinced his son was among the dead.
Post-mortem examinations are being carried out on the 31 men and eight women to establish the cause of their deaths.
A spokeswoman for Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the incident a "serious humanitarian tragedy" in a statement on Saturday.
Maurice Robinson, from Northern Ireland, appeared in court on Monday charged with a string of offences, including 39 counts of manslaughter.
Extradition proceedings have also begun against 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, who was arrested in Dubin on a European Arrest Warrant.
Police are still seeking two brothers from Northern Ireland, Ronan and Christopher Hughes, who are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking.