Vietnam arrests eight people in connection with Essex truck deaths: state media

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By Rachael Kennedy
The 39 victims are believed to all be Vietnamese nationals
The 39 victims are believed to all be Vietnamese nationals   -  Copyright  Reuters

Vietnamese authorities have made eight arrests in connection with the deaths of 39 people who were found in the back of a truck container in the UK, according to state media.

This follows two arrests by Vietnam on Friday, and the questioning of several more individuals.

Speaking to the state-run Vietnamese News Agency, the Nghe An province head Nguyen Huu Cau said: "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."

It comes after British police said last week that it believed all 39 victims were from Vietnam — an update after initially saying the victims were Chinese.

The refrigerated container was discovered in an industrial estate last month after travelling from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to the British port of Purfleet.

A number of Vietnamese families later came forward to say they believed their loves ones were among the victims aboard the truck.

The father of Pham Thi Tra My says he thinks his daughter was in the containerReuters

The family of 26-year-old Pham Thi Tra My told Sky News they had paid £31,000 (€36,000) for their daughter to travel to Europe for a better life.

But the last they heard from her was in a series of text messages just hours before the container was found in which she apologised to her parents and said she thought she was dying.

Screenshots of the messages shared on social media said: "I'm sorry Dad and Mum. The way I went overseas was not successful.

"Mum, I love Dad and you so much, I'm dying because I can't breathe. Nghen, Can Loc, Ha Tinh, Vietnam. Mum, I am so sorry, Mum."

Following the discovery of the bodies, the truck's 25-year-old driver, Maurice Robinson, from Northern Ireland, was arrested and charged with several offences, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

Police have also arrested a 22-year-old, Eamonn Harrison, in Dublin, and are searching for two brothers, Ronan and Christopher Hughes, who are wanted on suspicion of human trafficking and manslaughter.