Belfast Telegraph

Family of Vietnamese woman who sent mum harrowing texts from Essex container confirm she is among the 39 dead

Pham Thi Tra My has been confirmed as being among the dead
Pham Thi Tra My has been confirmed as being among the dead
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A Vietnamese woman who sent her family a series of harrowing messages from a container in which 39 migrants were found dead has been confirmed as one of the deceased.

Pham Thi Tra My (26) was last heard from on October 22 when she sent her mother a message saying: “I am really, really sorry, Mum and Dad, my trip to a foreign land has failed,” she wrote.

“I am dying, I can’t breathe. I love you very much Mum and Dad. I am sorry, Mother.”

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were discovered in the refrigerated trailer the lorry in an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of the following morning.

All of the dead are believed to be from Vietnam.

The lorry driver, 25-year-old Maurice “Mo” Robinson, from Northern Ireland, has appeared in court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Pham Thi Tra My's father, Pham Van Thin, has now confirmed his daughter is among the dead.

"The news that my daughter died in England is true. It is very painful," he told Vietnam's Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Once her body has been returned to Vietnam, Ms Tra My's parents said she will be buried in their home town in the Can Loc district in Ha Tinh province.

Mr Tra My is understood to have paid around £30,000 to people smugglers to make the desperate and dangerous journey to England.

The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, heading towards Tilbury Docks under police escort (Aaron Chown/PA)
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, heading towards Tilbury Docks under police escort (Aaron Chown/PA)

Her father told Sky News they had tried to talk her out of attempting the journey, but to no avail.

"We tried to talk her out of it because it would be a very difficult journey for her as a girl," he said.

“But she said: ‘If I don’t go, the family would stay in a very difficult situation because of the big debt’.

“So she took a risk and decided to go, and we had to agree.”

Another Vietnamese citizen, 20-year-old Nguyen Dinh Luong has also been confirmed to be among the dead.

After the nationality of the victims emerged, the Vietnam government condemned human trafficking and stated they would work with the UK Government to track down those responsible.

Police forensics officers examine the lorry in Grays (Aaron Chown/PA)
Police forensics officers examine the lorry in Grays (Aaron Chown/PA)

Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on Saturday: “This is a serious humanitarian tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the incident and wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families.

“We wish they may soon overcome those tremendous pain and losses.”

She said the Vietnamese embassy in the UK had been working closely with the British authorities to support families and help find the identities of the victims.

She said the British police and the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security would publish their findings “as soon as possible”.

“Vietnam strongly condemns human trafficking and considers it a serious crime subject to strict penalties," she added.

“Vietnam calls upon countries in the region and around the world to step up cooperation in combating human trafficking in order to prevent the recurrence of such tragedy.”

She added: “We are grateful that the British Government and other relevant authorities have actively conducted the investigation, timely provided identification information to and worked in close coordination with the Vietnamese competent authorities.

In addition to Maurice Robinson, another Northern Ireland man, 23-year-old Eamon Harrison from Newry, has appeared in court charged in relation to the 39 deaths.

Harrison was arrested on foot of a European Arrest Warrant on Friday and appeared before Dublin High Court, where authorities are seeking to have him extradited to the UK.

Floral tributes left in Grays, Essex (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Floral tributes left in Grays, Essex (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The court heard UK authorities want his extradition for prosecution on 39 counts of manslaughter, one charge of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and another of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Police have also urged two Armagh brothers wanted in connection with the deaths, Ronan and Christopher Hughes, to hand themselves in for questioning.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph