HANOI, Nov. 19 (DPA / EP) –
The families of immigrants found dead inside a refrigerated truck in Essex, England, last month have been notified by the Vietnam authorities that they will have to pay the costs of repatriation of their loved ones.
Bui Huy Cuong, vice president of the Popular Committee of the Can Loc district in Ha Tinh province, where the families of 10 of the 39 victims live, has told DPA that the decision of the Government of Vietnam has been clear.
“After receiving official information from the foreign affairs department (of the province), the district government worked with the commune authorities on Monday and asked them to inform families that the United Kingdom and the Government of Vietnam will not pay the costs, “explained Cuong.
“The authorities of the commune will meet today with the families and ask them to make a decision,” he added. “We can only support them to move the ashes or bodies back home from the airport,” he added.
Nguyen Dinh Gia, whose son Nguyen Dinh Luong is among the deceased, has told DPA that the Government's decision has caused him great pain. “If the government does not cover the costs, we have no choice but to pay them,” he said, stressing that “we have no money right now.”
Pham Manh Cuong, the brother of Pham Thi Tra My, whose text message saying “I'm sorry mom … I'm dying because I can't breathe” attracted worldwide attention that there could be Vietnamese among the dead, has expressed surprise that it is the families that have to pay, when he had heard that the expenses would be borne by the two governments. “I am very sad. We have to ask for a loan to repatriate it because we have no money,” he said.
In a document sent to the regional authorities over the weekend, the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers two options: the family pays $ 1,773 to receive the ashes of their relative, or $ 2,858 for the repatriation of the body to the airport of Hanoi.
The British Police discovered the bodies of 39 migrants in a lorry in Essex on October 23. After initially suggesting that they were Chinese citizens, the Police finally identified them as Vietnamese on November 8.