Seven families in Ha Tinh Province and five in Nghe An Province, both in central Vietnam, reported Saturday that their children were missing in the U.K. since last Wednesday, October 23.
"Besides the case of Pham Thi Tra My in Nghen Town, which was reported yesterday, seven more cases were reported this morning," Bui Huy Cuong, deputy chairman of the Can Loc District People's Committee in Ha Tinh Province, said Saturday.
Of the seven families, five are in Thien Loc Commune and one each in Thanh Loc and Vinh Loc communes, he said. "Some Vietnamese people in the UK called these families to inform that their offspring have been missing since October 23."
Nguyen Dinh Gia of Thanh Loc Commune said he could not contact his 20-year-old son, Nguyen Dinh Luong, since October 23. Luong had worked in France for one year. In mid October, he called his family in Vietnam saying he would go to the U.K.
Gia has sought the assistance of Thanh Loc authorities in ascertaining Luong's whereabouts.
Another father whose name has not been revealed has also reported his son, identified only as Hung, could not be contacted since October 23.
Hung, who had worked in Germany for an unspecified period of time, recently told his family in Vietnam that he would go to the U.K. to work. His family also lost contact with him since October 23.
A man in Nghe An Province reported his son has been missing in the U.K. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai.
The five Nghe An Province families that reported their offspring have been missing are those living in Do Thanh and Tho Thanh communes of Yen Thanh District and Hung Dong commune of Vinh Town
Pham Van Thin, a resident of Nghen Town, Can Loc District, Ha Tinh Province, had sent a letter to the local authorities Friday, saying his daughter Pham Thi Tra My was likely one of the 39 people found dead in a container truck in the Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays.
"My daughter, Pham Thi Tra My, left Vietnam on October 3, 2019, then travelled to China, France and England," Thin wrote in the letter, which had My’s photo attached. She was described as 1.5 meters tall and weighing around 46 kilograms.
Thin asked the Nghen People's Committee to verify that he is My’s father, in order to initiate legal procedures to identify and bring his daughter’s body back to Vietnam.
In Pham Thi Tra My's last text message to her mother, which was released by her family, My wrote that she was struggling to breathe and apologised.
"I'm sorry Dad and Mom. The way I went overseas was not successful," the 26-year-old wrote. "Mom, I love Dad and you so much. I'm dying because I can't breathe."
A screenshot shows that the message, translated into English by a family acquaintance, was received at 4.28 a.m. on October 23 in Vietnam. This would have been 10.28 p.m. UK time, about four hours before the ambulance was called and the bodies were discovered.
Pham Thi Tra My's photo attached to her father Pham Van Thin's letter to authorities. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, U.K. emergency services discovered the bodies of 38 adults and one teenager, suspected immigrants, after being alerted that there were people in a refrigerated container truck at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex County, east of London.
Three people, including truck driver, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter, the British police said on Friday, the first indication from officials that the deaths were linked to human smuggling.
Police initially said they believed the dead were Chinese but Beijing on Saturday said the nationalities had not yet been confirmed. Chinese and Vietnamese officials are now both working closely with British police, their respective embassies said.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday that it had instructed its London embassy to assist British police with the identification of victims.
In 2000, 58 Chinese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Dover, Britain’s busiest port. The authorities said they had asphyxiated in the container, in which cooling and ventilation were switched off.
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