Vietnamese authorities have approached grieving families in Vietnam with offer of loans to cover the costs of repatriating their loved ones’ bodies in the wake of the Essex lorry incident.
These gave them the option of taking a loan from the government, or covering the repatriation costs themselves.
Authorities found the bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals inside a container in the town of Grays in Essex last month. Two lorry drivers have since been charged with manslaughter, and several other men have been arrested in connection with the case.
While the police identified all the victims ten days ago, the bodies have not yet been returned to Vietnam.
Coroners in England and Wales must grant permission before a body can be moved abroad or to other parts of the UK.
Some relatives told the BBC they have been approached by the Vietnamese authorities with consent forms.
The consent forms seen by the BBC say: “I, on behalf of the family, pledge to pay back all relevant expenses that the authorities have made in advance in order to repatriate them from the UK.”
Victims’ families have been offered a discounted price of 66 million dong (£2,200; USD2,840) to repatriate a body or 44 million dong to bring back the ashes, the BBC has learnt.
Families had already taken out loans of up to £40,000 to pay for smuggling their relatives to the UK.
Pham Ngoc Tuan, brother of one of the victims, told the BBC’s Nga Pham: “We already had to borrow so much money, we had to mortgage what we had. I don’t even know if we can borrow anymore.”
In the wake of the deaths, the Vietnamese embassy in London pledged to “closely co-ordinate with the relevant authorities of Vietnam and UK to support the families of the Vietnamese victims… to bring their loved ones home”.
It also issued its “heartfelt condolences” to the families. (Source: BBC)