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A relative lights an incense stick in front of a portrait of Bui Thi Nhung

The names of 39 Vietnamese nationals who were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex have been released by police.

Many of their families had feared the worst ever since the bodies were discovered in the early hours of 23 October.

The BBC has been speaking to friends and relatives of those who died about how they came to be the victims of the tragedy.

This article will be updated as further information about the victims comes to light.

Pham Thi Tra My, 26

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Family of Pham Tra My

The family of Pham Thi Tra My said they paid £30,000 to people smugglers to get her to the UK.

Miss Tra My, who was from Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province, flew to China before travelling via France and Belgium, according to her brother.

He told the BBC she first attempted to cross the border to the UK on 19 October but was caught and turned back.

The last message the family received from her was at 22:30 BST on 22 October – two hours before the trailer arrived at the Purfleet terminal from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

The texts, sent to her parents, read: “I am really, really sorry, Mum and Dad, my trip to a foreign land has failed.

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

Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20

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Family handout

Nguyen Dinh Luong, also from Ha Tinh, had been living in France but hoped to work in a nail salon in the UK.

The last his father heard from him was in mid-October, explaining that the journey would cost £11,000.

Bui Phan Thang, 37

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Mr Phan Thang was a father from Ha Tinh province.

Nguyen Huy Hung, 15

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Supplied by family

Among the youngest of the victims, Mr Hung was also from Ha Tinh. He wanted to join his parents who live in the UK, his brother told local media.

His sister asked for help to find him in a Facebook post after the lorry was discovered. She wrote that he flew from Hanoi to Russia on 26 August, then to France on 6 October, but that the family lost contact when he went to the UK on 21 October.

Tran Thi Tho, 21

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Family Handout

A friend who lives in Glasgow did not want to be identified, but told the BBC he had been due to meet up with Miss Tho – who was from Nghe An province – when she arrived in the UK.

Her eyes are blurred in this image at the request of her family.

Bui Thi Nhung, 19

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Bui Thi Nhung left her job in a clothes shop in Nghe An province to travel to the UK using money that her friends had helped her raise.

Once there Miss Nhung, who was also known as Anna, hoped to meet up with friends and family, and to work to pay off debt owed by her late father.

She was the youngest of four siblings – and the most educated – her sister Bui Thi Loan told the BBC.

The sisters had exchanged messages on Facebook on 21 October, when Nhung said she fine and “in storage”.

Vo Ngoc Nam, 28

Originally from Nghe An province, Mr Nam had been working in Romania and planned to travel to the UK. His family did not want to be interviewed.

Nguyen Dinh Tu, 26

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Nguyen Dinh Tu, 26, borrowed thousands of pounds when he was discharged from the military in order to get married and build a house.

But with no work available in his hometown in Nghe An province, he went abroad to seek employment and repay his debts, leaving behind his wife and 18-month-old baby.

Mr Tu paid smugglers the equivalent of around £4,960 in the hope of making it to the UK, according to AFP news agency.

Le Van Ha, 30

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Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

Le Van Ha left his heavily pregnant wife and young son behind in Nghe An province when he began his journey to the UK in June.

He went in search of better-paid work to repay money that his family had borrowed to build their house.

His father, Le Minh Tuan, mortgaged two plots of land to fund the £20,000 journey.

“I don’t know when we can ever pay it back. I’m an old man now, my health is poor, and I have to help bring up his children,” he said.

Nguyen Van Hung, 33

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AFP/Getty Images

Less than two weeks before his body was found in Essex, Nguyen Van Hung was photographed with his cousin, Hoang Van Tiep, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The music graduate had tricked his parents when he left Nghe An to join his cousin in France last year, leaving his passport at home and travelling on a different one.

He found work in a kitchen but had spoken about how it was hard, and said he wanted to grow marijuana in the UK.

Hoang Van Tiep, 18

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Reuters

Hoang Van Tiep, Nguyen Van Hung’s cousin, left Nghe An province for France in 2017, funded by his mother, who borrowed money from banks and relatives to fund the trip.

Once there, he worked illegally at a restaurant, his mother said. He was arrested multiple times and his passport was taken.

On being threatened with deportation, he told his mother he wanted to travel to the UK.

Nguyen Trong Thai, 26

Having worked in his family’s timber business, Mr Thai had often talked about leaving Nghe An province and going abroad.

He told his family he was going to Germany for business, his mother told the BBC. But after several phone calls in the first few days, they stopped hearing from him.

Nguyen Ba Vu Hung, 34

Mr Hung, who was from Thua Thien – Hue province, had been speaking to his family about trying to get to the UK in mid-October, according to his brother-in-law, Tom Wright, who is a US citizen but lives with his wife in Vietnam.

Believing that he would have a better life in the UK, Mr Hung’s mother agreed to pay the estimated $15,000 (£11,800).

He was in regular contact with his family while travelling through Europe, sending a photo of himself and a friend in front of the Eiffel Tower. He told his mother that he would be boarding a truck and would contact her in a few days, once he had reached the UK – but he never did.

Vo Nhan Du, 19

Mr Du left his home in Ha Tinh province in June, staying in Germany for 15 days and France for three months, his father told Vietnamese media.

The last his father heard from him was on 22 October, when he called to say he was about to leave for the UK.

Nguyen Huy Phong, 35-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Tran Manh Hung, 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Cao Tien Dung, 37-year-old man from Nghe An

Cao Huy Thanh, 37-year-old man from Nghe An

Tran Thi Mai Nhung, 18-year-old woman from Nghe An

Nguyen Minh Quang, 20-year-old man from Nghe An

Le Ngoc Thanh, 44-year-old man from Dien Chau

Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, 28-year-old woman from Nghe An

Hoang Van Hoi, 24-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Tho Tuan, 25-year-old man from Nghe An

Dang Huu Tuyen, 22-year-old man from Nghe An

Tran Khanh Tho, 18-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Vo Van Linh, 25-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Nguyen Van Nhan, 33-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Tran Thi Ngoc, 19-year-old woman from Nghe An

Nguyen Van Hiep, 24-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Thi Van, 35-year-old woman from Nghe An

Tran Hai Loc, 35-year-old man from Nghe An

Duong Minh Tuan, 27-year-old man from Quang Binh

Nguyen Ngoc Ha, 32-year-old man from Quang Binh

Nguyen Tien Dung, 33-year-old man from Quang, Binh

Phan Thi Thanh, 41-year-old woman from Hai Phong

Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, 18-year-old man from Hai Phong

Tran Ngoc Hieu, 17-year-old boy from Hai Duong

Dinh Dinh Binh, 15-year-old boy from Hai Phong

Additional reporting by Vinnie O’Dowd



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