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Vigil for 39 who died in lorry ‘seeking freedom’

Memorial: Congregation paying tribute after last month’s tragedy PICTURE: PA

A VIGIL has been held in memory of the 39 people who were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex.

Members of the Vietnamese community gathered at the Church of the Holy Name and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in east London to remember those who died ‘seeking freedom, dignity and happiness’.

Candles arranged to read ‘39’ were lit at the foot of the altar for the service on Saturday, attended by more than 100 people.

39 lives lost: Candles arranged on altar during the service in east London PICTURE: PA

The Rev Simon Nguyen said: ‘Today we gathered to remember the people who have departed. These people who used to live among us, who dined with us. Today they are no longer with us.’

He added: ‘We pray for those who have lost their sons and daughters, their loved ones, at this very challenging time.’

At mass yesterday at the same church, which has a large Vietnamese congregation, Bishop Nicholas Hudson also asked for prayers for traffickers.

Stowaway: Pham Thi Tra My, 26, is believed by her mother to be among the dead
Looking for work: Nguyen Dinh Luong has been named by relatives as a possible victim

Police confirmed on Friday that all the victims were Vietnamese. After the service, Mr Nguyen told the Press Association the incident had affected the Vietnamese community internationally.

He said: ‘The whole community is in shock. It is shocking every single day because of more news and more information about the tragedy.’

It came as MPs issued a warning that the deaths should be a ‘wake-up call’ for the government.

Prayers: Rev Simon Nguyen speaks at the vigil for Vietnamese men and women found dead in Essex PICTURE: PA

In a report published today, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee said that a policy focused on closing borders will push migrants into the hands of smugglers.

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out on the 31 men and eight women found on the lorry in an industrial estate in Grays on October 23. The driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, from Northern Ireland, has appeared in court on manslaughter charges.