UK truck victim families take on loans to repatriate remains to Vietnam

HANOI (AFP) – Some families of the 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a truck in Britain last month will borrow money from the government to repatriate their relatives’ remains, they told AFP yesterday.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry said they would help to 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 USD1,774, while the fee to repatriate a body was USD2,858, 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 steep loans 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 two young children and a wife. The family already borrowed more than USD30,000 to send Ha to Europe, a huge sum in his province of Nghe An where the average annual per capita income is around USD1,200.

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