London (AFP) – British police investigating the discovery of 39 bodies in a truck said Friday they had arrested three more people, as a security source in Hanoi said some of the victims could be Vietnamese.
The horrific case has shocked Britain and turned the spotlight onto the dangers of human trafficking.
Police initially believed the victims were all Chinese nationals, but said Friday that the “picture may change” on identification.
A Vietnamese man told AFP he feared his sister, 26-year-old Pham Thi Tra My, was among the dead and said she had sent a heart-wrenching message to their mother before her death.
My left Vietnam on October 3 en route to the United Kingdom and Pham Manh Cuong said their mother received a text message from her just hours before the truck was found in Britain.
“I’m sorry Mom. My path to abroad doesn’t succeed. Mom, I love you so much! I’m dying bcoz I can’t breathe,” she said in the message shared by the Vietnam-based Human Rights Space.
Her brother confirmed to AFP the text message was authentic.
Essex deputy chief constable Pippa Mills said police would not be “speculating” on the nationalities of the victims, calling it a “developing picture”.
In total, eight women and 31 men were found dead in the refrigeration trailer on Wednesday.
After detaining the truck driver at the scene — a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland — on suspicion of murder, Essex police confirmed three additional arrests on Friday.
A man and a woman, both aged 38 and from Warrington in northwest England, “have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter”, the force said.
It later announced that a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland had been arrested at London’s Stansted Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter.
The first autopsies were to take place Friday as investigators attempt to establish how they died before the work begins on trying to identify the victims.
The police investigation is Britain’s largest murder probe since the 2005 London suicide bombings.