Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, who is in charge of the investigation, said in a statement that police had been “working hard to bring answers to worried families who fear their loved one may be among those whose tragic journey ended on our shores. Our priority has been to identify the victims, to preserve the dignity of those who have died and to support the victims’ friends and families.”
He said that the victims’ next of kin were informed and “were given some time to absorb this tragic news before we publicly confirmed their loved one’s identity.”
The police worked with Britain’s National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Vietnamese authorities to identify and locate families.
Many of the victims came from the provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh in Vietnam, which have a long history of sending migrants to Europe, especially to Britain.
Late last month, Essex police, tipped off by local ambulance services, were called to an industrial estate about 25 miles east of central London in the town of Grays, where they discovered the 39 bodies. The discovery prompted one of the largest homicide investigations in Britain’s history.
Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old driver of the truck, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and money laundering.
On Thursday, British police confirmed that all of the victims — 31 males and eight females — were Vietnamese nationals.
“May I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to the victims’ families, said Caroline Beasley-Murray, the senior coroner for the investigation. “My thoughts are with them at this unimaginably difficult time.”