Thursday 23 January 2020

'My journey abroad hasn't succeeded. I'm dying, I can't breathe'

Pham Thi Tra My sent a farewell message to her mother
Pham Thi Tra My sent a farewell message to her mother

A heartbreaking text message from a young Vietnamese woman to her mother, saying "I love you so much, I'm dying because I can't breathe".

The messages were released as her family grew increasingly concerned she was one of the 39 migrants who perished in the back of a truck.

It was sent by Pham Thi Tra My (26) to a friend, to allow what is believed to be a final farewell to her mother.

The message, sent from an account named "daughter", was received in Vietnam at 4.28am Wednesday morning, 10.28pm UK time, just four hours before the alarm was raised in Essex, when the bodies were found within the truck's refrigeration unit.

"I'm sorry mum. My journey abroad hasn't succeeded," the text read.

"Mum, I love you so much! I'm dying because I can't breathe... I'm from Nghen, Can Loc, Ha Tinh, Vietnam... I am sorry mum."

The account has not been accessed by Ms Tra My since Wednesday, adding to the concern she is among the dead.

It has also emerged two more Vietnamese migrants are feared dead - a 26-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman.

The text message highlights the torturous moments the migrants will have suffered as they waited for death in the back of the truck in transit from Belgium to the UK.

Ms Tra My's brother Pham Ngoc Tuan told the BBC her journey began on October 3. She had instructed her family not to contact her as "the organisers" did not allow her to receive calls.

"My sister went missing on October 23 on the way from Vietnam to the UK and we couldn't contact her," he said.

"We are concerned she may be in that trailer."


British police had said the 39 victims were all believed to be Chinese nationals.

"Pham Thi Tra My went to China and planned to go to England via France, a contact with her family told me," Hoa Nghiem, from Human Rights Space, a civic network based in Vietnam, said.

Mr Nghiem published a screenshot of Ms Tra My's text message which indicated it was sent at 4.28am on Wednesday Vietnam time (9.28pm GMT Tuesday).

The bodies were found in the truck container at an industrial estate near London at 1.40am (12.40am GMT) British time.

The container had arrived in Britain about an hour-and-a-half earlier after being shipped from Zeebrugge.

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