The remains of the 39 people who died while being smuggled into the UK in the back of a lorry have been repatriated to Vietnam.

Sixteen bodies and seven urns arrived at Hanoi Airport from London, where they were then loaded into ambulances and flown back to relatives in provinces across the country.

Coffins arrive at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi Credit: Lam Khanh/VNA via AP

The 39 victims were found on October 23 in Grays, Essex. Police said the victims were aged between 15 and 44.

It is believed the victims died of asphyxiation although cause of death has not been revealed.

Funerals have already been held for some of the victims whose remains were flown back earlier. Credit: PA

The 31 men and eight women are believed to have paid human traffickers to get to England. Several suspects have been arrested in the UK and Vietnam.

An initial batch of 16 bodies were handed over to their families on Wednesday, and funerals held the following day.

The victims were found in the back of the lorry in Grays, Essex. Credit: PA

The impoverished villages the victims hailed from have largely been left out of the economic development that has turned urban centres like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi into boom towns, sending many on a risky journey looking for a better life abroad.