Oldham mill fire: Four men killed in Bismark House Mill blaze from Vietnam identified by police

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Police used DNA samples from family members in Vietnam to identify the victims of the blaze.

Four men from Vietnam who were killed in a fire at a mill in Greater Manchester have been identified by police.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) used DNA samples obtained from family members in the South East Asian country to reveal the identities of the four victims of the blaze in Oldham in May.

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Police have shared the names of the four men and given some details of how they were working in the UK when tragedy struck. Demolition crews found human remains in the wreckage of Bismark House Mill in July and a major police operation to identify them and find out what happened to them got under way.

There will now be inquests for the four men to determine exactly how they died and a file has already been prepared for the coroner. Police, meanwhile, have promised the families of the victims that they will find answers about what happened to their loved ones.

Who are the four victims of the Bismark House Mill fire?

The four men who died in the mill fire have been identified as Uoc Van Nguyen, Cuong Van Chu, Duong Van Nguyen and Nam Thanh Lee. Police have also given some details of the final months of the men’s lives and how they came to work or look for jobs in the UK.

GMP said Uoc, who was 31, maintained regular contact with his wife until the fire happened on Saturday 7 May 2022. At that time he had said to his wife that he was in a mill.

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Cuong, 39, arrived in the UK in June 2019 and he maintained regular contact with his wife and children. They too lost contact with him on the day of the fire.

Duong Van Nguyen and Uoc Van NguyenDuong Van Nguyen and Uoc Van Nguyen
Duong Van Nguyen and Uoc Van Nguyen

Duong, who was 29, arrived in the UK approximately 12 months ago and last contacted his family in the month before the fire. He told them at that time that he was living in “an abandoned house” whilst looking for work.

Nam, 21, arrived in the UK in January 2022 and last contacted his family on Wednesday 4 May 2022. He also told them in that conversation that he was living in “a derelict house” in a place he called “Dam”, which police believe to be Oldham. He was also looking for work, GMP said.

What has been happening with the police investigation into the fire?

Teams have been searching the remnants of the mill since demolition teams first discovered human remains there on Saturday 23 July. The search is still ongoing at the site.

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In early autumn, eight GMP officers travelled to Vietnam to obtain statements and DNA samples which are required for criminal and coronial proceedings from 18 individuals across different regions of the country. They also spoke to Vietnamese officials, including government and law enforcement, about the fire and the investigation.

Nam Thanh Lee and Cuong Van ChuNam Thanh Lee and Cuong Van Chu
Nam Thanh Lee and Cuong Van Chu

The criminal investigation remains open. Two people have so far been arrested and released on bail. Police have also taken the opportunity to issue a fresh appeal for information while sharing the tragic news about the fire’s victims.

Anyone with information should contact Greater Manchester Police via 101, while international callers can ring the force on +441618725050. Information can also be submitted in English or Vietnamese to the Major Incident Public Portal. Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

What have police said?

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts from GMP said: “The thoughts of all involved in this operation remain with these men’s loved ones in Vietnam. Though we have been liaising with them for several months, this development will understandably be upsetting.

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“Since the first discovery at the end of July, GMP and partner agencies have completed a huge amount of work, both at the site and behind the scenes, to enable the completion of essential oversees enquiries. The deployment to Vietnam enabled us to obtain essential statements and DNA samples but also to meet the families face-to-face, to ensure the service they receive is not compromised by the distance between Greater Manchester and Vietnam.

“Though the identification is an important milestone for the operation, our work is far from over. At the site, work will continue until the search is complete. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the criminal investigation team will exhaust all lines of enquiry to ensure any criminal offences are identified and those responsible face justice.

“I would like to use this opportunity to publicly thank the local community and our partner agencies for supporting this operation. Not forgetting our officers and staff, who are leaving no stone unturned in investigating the circumstances surrounding these deaths and finding answers for the families.”