The bodies of 16 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a truck in the UK in October arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport on Wednesday.
All the bodies were taken into ambulances and sent to the victims’ respective home provinces, but no family members were allowed on the journey for security reasons, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The bodies will be immediately handed over to the families of the migrants upon arriving in their hometowns and the funerals are scheduled to take place on the same day, the ministry said.
Investigations are ongoing in multiple countries in relation to the incident, in which the bodies of 39 people later identified as Vietnamese nationals were found dead in the back of a refrigerated truck in the county of Essex, southeast England.
Eight people have been arrested in connection with the case in Vietnam, while the driver of the truck, Maurice “Mo” Robinson, 25, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter in the UK. Another man arrested in Ireland is being sought for extradition by Essex police.
Vietnamese officials have described the truck deaths as a “serious humanitarian tragedy,” while the case has attracted global headlines, and highlighted the often highly dangerous route some migrants take into Europe.
Speaking to CNN in October, family members of the victims said that they paid large amounts of money to people smugglers to transport their relatives to the UK, where it was hoped they could work and send money back.
“After this, no parent will allow their children to go work overseas. Because now it’s so risky,” said Ho Van Thanh, who runs a small roadside shop in the hamlet of Do Thanh in Nghe An province, where many young people left to find employment elsewhere.
“Money is important. But the most important thing is people, life.”