The bodies of 16 victims arrived in the Southeast Asian country in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“After waiting for so many days, my son has finally arrived,” Nguyen Dinh Gia, father of victim Nguyen Dinh Luong, told Reuters.
Under grey and rainy skies, a parade of ambulances snaked through crowds of mourners in the rural town of Dien Chau, Nghe An province, from which some of the victims began the doomed journey.
Five of the 16 bodies would be returned to Nghe An on Wednesday, an official there said.
“We are deeply saddened, but we have to hold back the emotion to organise the funeral for my son,” Gia said by phone from neighbouring Ha Tinh province, where another 10 victims were from.
Cloth-wrapped coffins arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport early on Wednesday and were loaded into the back of a fleet of waiting ambulances, state media showed.
The bodies would be taken to the homes of their next of kin in Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces, the foreign ministry said.
Vietnamese and British authorities continued to coordinate to repatriate the remaining bodies, it added without giving further details.
Police in Vietnam have arrested 10 people in connection with the deaths. On Monday, the British driver of the truck admitted plotting to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.
“This is a very difficult time,” Britain’s ambassador to Vietnam, Gareth Ward, said in a video statement released on Wednesday.
“But I promise the families and the Vietnamese people as a whole that we will continue to boost the cooperation between the UK and Vietnam to prevent human trafficking and protect vulnerable people here.”
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.