Vietnam villagers await news on their loved ones' fate

Vietnam villagers await news on their loved ones' fate
In a photo released by the family of Nguyen Dinh Luong shows Nguyen, 20, posing for a selfie in this undated photo. Luong's family fears that he may be among the 39 people found dead in the back of a container truck in southeastern England. (Family of Nguyen Dinh Luong via AP)

DO THANH, Vietnam (AP) — Residents of this rural, mostly Catholic village in central Vietnam said Saturday that they fear their family members could be among the dozens of people found dead in the back of a truck in England.

The mother and a sister of Bui Thi Nhung cried as they set up an altar with incense and a photo of the missing 19-year-old where family and friends can pray at their home in Do Thanh village.

The family heard from a friend living in the U.K. that “Nhung is one of the victims,” said one of Nhung’s relatives, who was visiting the missing teen’s despaired mother.

Nhung paid an agent over $10,000 with the hope of entering the U.K. to work as a nail technician, the relative said.

Nhung and many others from Yen Thanh district, where the village is located, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Hanoi, travel abroad looking to make the type of money they cannot earn back home. One of their main goals is to send back enough to allow their families to build large homes that they would otherwise be unable to afford.

“Many families in Yen Thanh have gotten rich from money sent back by their children working abroad,” said Le Dình Tuan, one of Nhung’s neighbors, who was at the house.

A representative for VietHome, a U.K.-based organization that assists the local Vietnamese community, said the group sent photos of nearly 20 people reported missing to British police.

British police initially said they believed the 39 victims found in the container truck Wednesday in southeastern England were Chinese, but later acknowledged that it was a “developing picture.”

China said it could not yet confirm the victims’ nationalities or identities. There was speculation circulating online in Vietnam that the victims may have been traveling on false Chinese passports.

Police on Friday arrested three people on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. The 25-year-old driver of the truck remains in custody on suspicion of murder.