Vietnam Starts Hotline for Truck Deaths Case

Vietnam Starts Hotline for Truck Deaths Case
An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies in Thurrock, South England, on early Oct. 23, 2019. (UK Pool via AP)
The Associated Press

LONDON—The Vietnamese Embassy in London has started a hotline to help families seeking information on loved ones following the deaths of 39 people believed to be victims of human smuggling who were found in the back of a truck in southeastern England.

U.K. police say they’ve been in contact with Vietnamese authorities, even though they are not yet certain of the identities of those found dead Wednesday in the refrigerated truck.

The Vietnamese government has also announced its own investigation into the deaths.

That comes after attention shifted to Vietnam Friday, when the family of a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman released text messages suggesting she had suffocated in the truck. Relatives of Pham Tra My told the BBC they had been unable to contact the 26-year-old since receiving a text Tuesday night saying she was suffocating.

The number for the Vietnamese hotline is +44-7713-181501.

Those seeking assistance in relation to the case can also contact Vietnam’s general citizen protection hotline at +84981-8484-84.

British police charged the 25-year-old truck driver Saturday with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Five people are being questioned by police, including the truck driver and three people who were arrested Friday on suspicion on manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Irish police said another man was arrested Saturday in connection with the case.

Police in Essex say all of the 39 victims are now out of the truck and in a mortuary awaiting autopsies.

But Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore says the victims have not been identified and very few documents were found with the bodies. He met Saturday with the Vietnamese ambassador.

Pasmore again appealed to those who might have information on the victims to help with inquiries.

Police initially believed the victims were Chinese but later acknowledged that the details were still evolving.