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Vietnamese families bury first victims of UK truck tragedy

  • Published at 10:50 pm November 28th, 2019
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A family member carries a portrait during funeral at Dien Chau distritct, Nghe in Vietnam November 28, 2019 AFP

All 31 men and eight women found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex last month were Vietnamese

Throngs of weeping relatives on Thursday buried the first of 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a truck in Britain last month, in emotional ceremonies for the young victims whose deaths have rattled their rural towns.

The first of the remains arrived in Vietnam from London on a commercial flight Wednesday, closing a weeks-long, agonising wait by families eager to have their children back home. 

All 31 men and eight women found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex last month were Vietnamese, many from small towns in central Vietnam. 

On Thursday several families laid their loved ones to rest after long nights of emotional vigils. 

Under rainy skies in central Nghe An province, scores of relatives and villagers gathered for a final farewell for Hoang Van Tiep, 18, Nguyen Van Hung, 33, two cousins who died on the truck. 

"I've never attended a funeral as big as this. It's a sad day for all of us," said a neighbour Hoang Thi Mai, her eyes wet with tears. 

"I hope they are happy in heaven," she added, as their flower-flanked caskets were transported by a long procession to a cemetery in Dien Chau district. 

The parents of Hung were carried away from the burial on a motorbike, overcome with emotion and unable to watch. Those who stayed wailed as the coffins were lowered into the ground.  

Their families have waited weeks for their bodies to come back, and took loans from the government to cover the cost of repatriation - $1,800 for ashes, or $2,900 for bodies. 

Many families opted to pay more for the bodies so they could give their children traditional burials, since cremation is rare in rural Vietnam.