Pham Thi Tra My, the young Vietnamese woman who suffocated to death alongside 38 other victims in a lorry that arrived on Tuesday in southern England | Photo: posted by Noa Nghiem, Vietnamese activist for human rights, on a Twitter profile on October 25, 2019
Pham Thi Tra My, the young Vietnamese woman who suffocated to death alongside 38 other victims in a lorry that arrived on Tuesday in southern England | Photo: posted by Noa Nghiem, Vietnamese activist for human rights, on a Twitter profile on October 25, 2019

One of the young Vietnamese who died during an attempt to be smuggled into Britain on a lorry allegedly paid an enormous amount of money for the ride. Some 39 migrants lost their lives in the incident, discovered on Tuesday.

The family of a young Vietnamese woman claims they paid €34,000 for a trip on a lorry that was to take the woman to the UK "safely." But during the trip, she and 38 other migrants reportedly suffocated in the refrigerated section.

Among the 'passengers' of the lorry, which arrived in southern England last Tuesday, there are still victims that have not been identified by name or nationality. Initially, British police had initially said that they were Chinese migrants. It is now believed, however, that either most or all were actually Vietnamese.

Also read: People smuggling from Vietnam to Europe: The facts

Parents tell their daughter's story

The parents of Pham Thi Tra My, the only victim whose name is known at present, have been interviewed by CNN. The couple, which lives in a village in the Ha Tinh province in northern Vietnam, together earn about €360 ($400) per month. In the interview, published on Sunday, they spoke about the sacrifices they had made to give their daughter the chance to build herself a new life.

Her father said the traffickers had told him they did not know what vehicles would be used during the journey but assured them that it was safe.

Had he known what vehicles they were to travel on, the father added, he would not have allowed his daughter to go. Prior to her death from suffocation, the young woman had survived a very long journey through China, France and Belgium. "I've lost both my loved one and my money," the father said.

Her mother expressed the hope that the Vietnamese and British authorities will help bring her body back to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the father of another Vietnamese man, 20-year-old Nguyen Dinh Luong, has said that he fears his son may have been on the lorry as well. He said he has not heard from his son for a week since his son called to let him know he was on the verge of leaving towards Great Britain with a group of people.

Many of the other 37 migrants who lost their lives may also be Vietnamese.

Lengthy identification process

VietHome, an organization for and by the Vietnamese community in the United Kingdom, said it had sent the photos of 20 people that are missing to the British authorities.

The families of some of them say that more than 100 people left for the UK on three lorries and that the other two arrived at their destinations. At least for the moment, British police are not revealing many details on the incident.

They did say, however, that very few ID documents were found on the victims' bodies and that the identification process will thus be very long and complicated.

Meanwhile, the lorry driver, a 25-year-old Irish national named Maurice Robinson, has been charged with manslaughter and human trafficking. Others arrested in recent days are currently being questioned: a British couple and a 48-year-old from Northern Ireland.

A 20-year-old man from Northern Ireland, who was arrested at Dublin port, is also being interrogated.
 

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