Essex lorry deaths: driver is remanded in custody


Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.

He is to appear in court Monday.

Maurice Robinson, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, was remanded in custody at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

British police have charged the driver of the truck, Maurice Robinson, with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

Prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe described the conspiracy charges as "a global ring" involving "the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK". "She wanted to go to England to help our elderly mother".

He made no application for bail.

Attention shifted to Vietnam after the family of a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman, Pham Thi Tra My, released text messages suggesting she had suffocated in the truck.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated he was shocked by the cruelty of the fate of the smuggling victims, found in a refrigerated container last week and vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. "I would like to reiterate my thanks to every person and business who has been impacted by the work we have been carrying out there since Wednesday morning".

Security analysts say that added scrutiny has forced smugglers to take ever greater risks and make their attempts to enter Britain through less monitored ports further away from London.

British Ambassador Gareth Ward said he met with Vietnamese officials on Monday to discuss cooperation in the identification process.

The suspected victims in the most recent incident hail from Vietnam's northern rice-growing areas of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, two of the communist-ruled nation's poorest provinces.

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In Vietnam, family and friends of those believed missing have gathered at homes to pray for their loved ones.

"I fell to the ground when I heard that", Nguyen Dinh Gia told AFP.

Numerous 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain this week may be from Vietnam, according to a priest in a region south of Hanoi.

China said it could not yet confirm the victims' nationalities or identities.

Families in Vietnam are enduring an agonising wait to find out if their loved ones were among 39 people found dead inside a lorry trailer. "I'm dying bcoz I can't breathe", she said in the message, according to her brother Pham Manh Cuong.

He said: "In Vietnam it is assessed at 20 to 30,000 U.S. dollars, from China it's 40 to 50,000 USA dollars".

Vietnamese migrants often work illegally in nail bars or cannabis farms, heavily indebted and vulnerable to exploitations.

Four others have been arrested in the case.

Mr Gravett said families trying to help their loved ones travel overseas would pay thousands of dollars to trafficking gangs.

"One day he hastily asked us to raise 100 million dong ($4,300) for his trip", Ai said, sitting with family members in their house in Dien Chau district of Nghe An province. "The guy who helped him organise the journey to the United Kingdom said the VIP service was very safe, commuting in four-seat auto - not that container".