THE BODIES of 16 victims who died in the back of a refrigerated lorry container in Essex last month have been returned to Vietnam.
They were among 39 migrants, including two boys aged 15, who were found dead after attempting to smuggle themselves into the UK.
The bodies were flown to Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport, and will be taken by ambulance to their family homes.
The rest of the bodies will be repatriated in the coming days, though no date has been confirmed.
A family member of one of the victims said that he was "very sad, but happy as finally my son is back.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. We will organise the funeral as soon as he's returned," said Vo Van Binh, the father of one victim, Vo Van Linh.
The cost of having each body repatriated will reportedly cost each of the victims' families more than 66.2m Vietnamese dong (€2,578; £2,204), according to the vice minister of foreign affairs.
The BBC report that the Vietnamese government has offered the victims' relatives loans in order to bring the bodies back, but some of the families have rejected the offer, citing that it will only add to the debt they incurred by trying to help their relatives make it to the UK.
A number of Vietnamese organisations and companies have been attempting to raise funds for the families, reportedly raising around €100,000 so far.
Investigations into the case are still ongoing.
Earlier this week, another man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the incident, while Mo Robinson, who was driving the lorry, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to illegally smuggle migrants into the UK.