By Khanh Vu
HANOI (Reuters) - The remains of 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a truck near London last month have been brought to Vietnam, bringing to a close a tragic saga that has devastated rural communities in the Southeast Asian country.
The remains of 23 victims arrived at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi early on Saturday, a local government official said. Seven of the bodies were cremated in Britain before being repatriated, the official Vietnam News Agency said.
The first 16 of the bodies were repatriated on Wednesday to their home towns in northern-central Vietnam, where they were received by relatives and friends holding white roses.
The discovery of the bodies in the back of a refrigerated truck after being smuggled into Britain has shone a spotlight on the illicit trade that sends the poor of Asia, Africa and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.
Police in Vietnam have arrested 10 people in connection with the deaths. On Monday, the British driver of the truck admitted plotting to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.
In Vietnam, poor job prospects, environmental disasters and the promise of financial rewards are all factors pushing people to leave.
Nguyen Dinh Gia, father of victim Nguyen Dinh Luong said his son had left home for Britain in "hopes for a better life."
"How could I describe how big this loss is for my family...but the return of his body has helped ease the pain," Gia said after his son's body was buried on Thursday.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)