A Vietnamese Catholic priest has warned that the 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex may have been part of a larger group of more than 100 people travelling to Europe.
The warning comes as experts revealed Vietnamese families are paying smugglers large sums of money to help transport relatives into Europe via Russia.
Fr Anthony Dang Huu Nam, a priest in the Yen Thanh district, said he had heard from people who have been unable to contact relatives who were travelling to the UK.
“They were many people, more than 100 on their way to a new life,” he told the BBC. “A few families confirmed the deaths of their relatives who are the victims of this tragic journey, they won’t be the last, either.”
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson, 25, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, and will appear at the Old Bailey next month.
Bernie Gravett, a former Metropolitan police officer who now advises the EU on human trafficking, said migrants from Vietnam often enter Europe via a different route to people coming from China – the country of origin police previously identified for the container victims.
He described the routes taken by migrants as complex: “Chinese would come through Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and then up what we call the Balkan route.
“With Vietnamese it’s very different, they fly to Moscow and then they take a land route across northern Europe.”
Mr Gravett likened the activities of people traffickers to the operations of Amazon, with a network made up of “resellers” working together.
He added: “When we get to Europe then they’re looking [at] how can we cross Europe easily.
“So they use a European-registered truck, European drivers, so they’re less likely to get stopped.”
Picture: The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaving Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex. (Aaron Chown/PA).