Named: Four Vietnamese migrants feared dead following Oldham mill fire

The forgotten four who ‘burned to death’ and were left in a grave of rubble for TWO MONTHS: Police reveal identities of ‘trafficked’ Vietnamese migrants ‘who died in Oldham mill fire’ – including married father, 39

  • Police believe four Vietnamese nationals were trapped inside during the fire
  • They have now been named and pictured by Greater Manchester Police officers
  • A third body has been found after the building was burnt down three months ago
  • It took four days for the Bismark House Mill in Greater Manchester to be put out
  • Police are exploring whether the four people were victims of human trafficking

The four Vietnamese nationals who are believed to have been inside a mill when a blaze ripped through the building in May have been named by police.

Specialist officers began searching Bismark House Mill, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, after human remains were found by demolition workers last month following a blaze on May 7. 

On Friday, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police named four people believed to have been in the mill at the time of the fire. 

The four men, Cuong Van Chu, Uoc Van Nguyen, Duong Van Nguyen and Nam Thanh Le, were all reported missing to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on July 21.

It comes as yesterday, police found a third body in the building, where suspected human trafficking victims were being held.

Specialist officers declared a major incident and began the search of the fire remains after the first set of remains were discovered by demolition workers two weeks ago.

It took four days for firefighters to put out the blaze on Bower Street, a built-up area with many commercial units.

However they believed at the time that no one was inside the building.

Specialists confirmed the recovery of remains of three victims, though they have not yet been formally identified. 

Cuong Van Chu, 39, arrived in the UK in June 2019. He maintained regular contact with his wife and children but they have not heard from him since May 7 

The wife of Uoc Van Nguyen, 31, has also not heard from her husband since May 7. The couple maintained regular contact, and he said he was in a mill on that day

Police said they suspect that the four nationals named ‘may’ have been in the building at the time but are ‘keeping an open mind’.

Cuong Van Chu, 39, arrived in the UK in June 2019. He maintained regular contact with his wife and children but they have not heard from him since May 7.

The wife of Uoc Van Nguyen, 31, has also not heard from her husband since May 7. The couple maintained regular contact, and he said he was in a mill on that day.

Duong Van Nguyen, 29, told his family that he was residing in ‘an abandoned house’ whilst looking for work

Nam Thanh Le, 21, last contacted his family on May 4 and told them that he was residing in ‘a derelict house’ in ‘Dam’, believed to be Oldham, while looking for work

Duong Van Nguyen, 29, arrived in the UK approximately 12 months ago and last contacted his family approximately three months ago.

He told them that he was residing in ‘an abandoned house’ whilst looking for work.

Nam Thanh Le, 21, last contacted his family on May 4 and told them that he was residing in ‘a derelict house’ in ‘Dam’, believed to be Oldham, while looking for work. He arrived in the UK in January 2022.

Teams have been searching the remnants of the mill since demolition workers discovered human remains on July 23. 

The first set of remains were discovered by demolition workers two weeks ago and a major incident was declared

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, GMP’s Victim Identification lead, said: ‘Our thoughts remain with Cuong, Uoc, Duong and Nam’s loved ones. 

‘Specially-trained officers have been in direct contact with them and continue to make every effort to ensure they are fully updated and supported in Vietnam, as they would be in the United Kingdom.

‘We are continuing to search Bismark House Mill to ensure the recovery of all human remains and any objects of significance. 

‘Meanwhile, the investigation team is following several lines of enquiry relating to the fire and activities at the mill beforehand.

‘Though we have reason to suspect that Cuong, Uoc, Duong and Nam may have been in the mill during the fire, we are keeping an open mind with regards to how many people were present and their whereabouts. 

‘I, therefore, appeal to them or anyone with information about their whereabouts before or after the fire to contact us. I stress that their safety and welfare is our number one priority.’

Detective Superintendent Hughes also appealed for information about the fire and activities at the mill beforehand.

It took four days for firefighters to put out the blaze ripping Bismark House Mill in Oldham, Greater Manchester

The possibility that the remains of three people found were victims of human trafficking is among the lines of inquiry being considered by police, MailOnline understands.

Another line of inquiry is whether the flames developed in an illegal cannabis factory that was being run underneath a legitimate tile warehouse. 

Oldham councillor Aftab Hussain said yesterday: ‘It’s very worrying if the Vietnamese people were being kept in a mill like that.

‘It does concern me that there may have been some human trafficking involved here. It needs thoroughly investigating.

‘If anything illegal is found to have happened, anyone involved should be brought before the courts and punished.’  

Speaking yesterday, Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes said: ‘I speak on behalf of all involved in this operation when I say that our thoughts are with the potential family members in Vietnam.

‘Specially trained officers have been in direct contact with them and continue to liaise with partner agencies to ensure they are fully updated and supported.

‘At the scene, extensive search and recovery work continues to ensure any further remains are respectfully recovered.

‘Any criminal offences identified as part of their investigation will be progressed immediately and appropriately.

Police have been in direct contact with the family of the victims in Vietnam, but the remains of a suspected fourth victim have not yet been found

‘Anyone with information which may assist us should contact Greater Manchester Police or Crimestoppers, anonymously.’  

The cause of the fire has not been revealed. 

Assistant chief fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Leon Parkes said firefighters followed correct procedures when a decision was made not to enter the mill, due to concerns about the fire and the building’s structural stability.

But he said there would be a review of the incident and how it was managed.

The incident was also referred to Greater Manchester Police’s Professional Standards Branch for review.

Anyone with information can contact Greater Manchester Police via 101 quoting Operation Logan. 

Information can also be submitted in English or Vietnamese via the Major Incident Public Portal

Anonymous reports can be made to  independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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