Ha Tinh, Vietnam (CNN)Nguyen Thi Phong and Pham Van Thin live in a small house in Nghen, a town in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province. It has a corrugated metal roof, propped up on loose bricks, and a Vietnamese flag flies outside.
The family doesn’t have much — they make about $400 a month between them — but they say they managed to scrape together the money to pay for their daughter, Pham Thi Tra My, to travel to the UK, where they hoped she would have a chance at a better life.
That journey ended in tragedy. Pham Thi Tra My is believed to be among the 39 people found dead in a refrigerated lorry trailer at an industrial park in Grays, Essex, on Wednesday.
She texted her parents late on Tuesday night, UK time, when the trailer was in transit to the English port of Purfleet, according to Maritime tables seen by CNN.
“I’m sorry Dad and Mom. The way I went overseas was not successful,” the 26-year-old wrote. “Mom, I love Dad and you so much. I’m dying because I can’t breathe. Nghen, Can Loc, Ha Tinh, Vietnam. Mom, I am so sorry, Mom.”
It has not yet been confirmed that Pham Thi Tra My was one of the victims on the truck, but her family said they fear the worst. UK authorities are working with their Vietnamese counterparts to identify the victims but have not yet officially named any of them or confirmed their nationalities.
Speaking to CNN in the family’s home in Vietnam, Pham Van Thin was still overcome with grief, saying it was “very painful” to receive the text. He said his daughter must have known she was going to die when she sent it.
Pham Van Thin said he and his wife paid around $40,000 to send their daughter to the UK, where she is believed to have been one of the victims of the Essex truck disaster.
“I’ve lost both my loved one and my money,” Pham said, adding that the smugglers they paid did not tell the family how they would transport Tra My to the UK. She traveled to the country via China and France, but eventually fell out of contact with her family, after which Pham reported her missing.
By then it was too late, Pham Thi Tra My and the other 38 people on board the truck were trapped and running out of oxygen.