The Chronicle

A Catholic mass was held yesterday for Vietnamese feared among 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain, as families desperately awaited news about missing relatives who have not been heard from in days.

The 31 men and eight women were initially believed to be Chinese, but several Vietnamese families have now come forward with fears their relatives are among the dead.

The grim case has cast light on the extreme dangers facing illegal migrants seeking better lives in Europe.

The driver of the refrigerated trailer discovered in an industrial park on Wednesday has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and people trafficking.

Many of the suspected victims are believed to have come from impoverished villages in central Vietnam, a feeder of illegal migrants chasing promises of riches overseas.

Worshippers gathered on Sunday in a remote town in central Nghe An province to pray for the missing, kneeling before a priest who delivered an emotional sermon. “We gather here to pray for all the 39 victims,” priest Nguyen Duc Vinh said before a packed cathedral.

“We don’t know yet whether they were our children,” he added as visitors sang hymns.

Parents in the area have set up makeshift altars for their missing loved ones, many who have not been heard from since the truck was discovered Wednesday in Essex, east of London.

Five people have so far been arrested in connection with the tragedy, the country’s largest murder probe since the 2005 London suicide bombings.

All the bodies have been sent to hospital to start the difficult task of identifying victims, who are believed to be undocumented. AP