Families of UK truck victims to take steep loans

Source:AFP Published: 2019/11/19 21:13:40

British Police officers stand on duty at a cordon near to where a lorry, and containing 39 dead bodies, that was discovered at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019. Photo: VCG

Some families of the 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a truck in Britain last month will take on steep loans from the government to repatriate their relatives' remains, they told AFP on Tuesday. 

Vietnam's foreign ministry said they would help bring either the ashes or the bodies of the victims back - but that families would have to cover the cost of repatriation. 

The price to bring ashes back in a jar was $1,774, while the fee to repatriate a body in a coffin was $2,858, according to an official document shared with the families and seen by AFP. 

Families in central Vietnam, where many of the 39 victims come from, said they were desperate to bring their loved ones back nearly four weeks after the tragedy, despite the debt they will have to take on. 

"We're in deep pain, we just want him back soonest," said Le Minh Tuan, whose 30-year-old son was among the victims found on October 23 in a refrigerated container in Essex. 

"We'll pay any price, whether I have to sell my house or my land, I am determined to bring him back," said Tuan, whose son Le Van Ha left behind two young children and a wife. 

The family already borrowed more than $30,000 to send Ha to Europe, a huge sum in his province of Nghe An where the average annual per capita income is around $1,200.

Tuan said he will opt to bring his son's body back instead of ashes so he can give him a traditional burial.

Cremation is not common in rural Vietnam where the majority of the 39 victims come from, and bodies are normally buried several days after death. 

The foreign ministry urged families to opt for cremation "to ensure speed, low cost and sanitation safety," according to the document. 

It added that by law Vietnam's government was not obliged to cover the cost of repatriation. 

Vo Thi Hong said the family would take on a bigger debt to give her brother Vo Nhan Du a traditional funeral.

"Our priority is to bring him back. We'll think about how to pay the loan later," she told AFP. 

Two other families told AFP they also agreed to the government loan to repatriate their relatives' bodies. 


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