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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Stephen Topping

Inquests opened as remains of four Vietnamese men found after Oldham mill fire identified

Inquests have now been opened and adjourned into the four Vietnamese men whose remains were discovered following a mill fire in Oldham. Uoc Van Nguyen, Cuong Van Chu, Duong Van Nguyen and Nam Thanh Lee have all been formally identified following the tragedy at the derelict Bismark House Mill.

Over a series of hearings at Rochdale Coroners Court this morning (December 1), Greater Manchester Police explained how detectives had been able to identify three of the men by travelling to Vietnam before matching DNA from the remains to their grieving relatives. An inquest into Cuong's death had been opened by coroner Joanne Kearsley back in August as an unidentified person at the time.

The court heard today that police have since been able to take DNA from fragments of the married 39-year-old's right thigh, before matching it with his parents. Ms Kearsley then opened the inquests of Nam 21, and Duong, 29.

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Police discovered the remains of leg bones belonging to Nam, while officers found the skull and teeth of Duong. Officers were able to take the DNA and match it with their parents.

Nam, from the Yên Thành district, had no fixed address in the UK and his occupation was unknown. Duong, from the Nghe An region of Vietnam, was last known to be a rice farmer.

Searches at the mill site back in August (MEN Media)

Both men were single. Uoc, from Nghe An, was the first man to be identified from the scene.

An inquest into the death of the married 31-year-old, who was previously a farmer, was opened in August after specialist officers had matched his fingerprints with an immigration and asylum database. It is not believed the remains of further people will be found from the site, although officers are keeping an open mind, the court heard today.

A criminal investigation is ongoing and police are still searching the area for evidence. Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, of Greater Manchester Police, told the court: "The scene search is very much ongoing.

"There may still be human remains to recover as part of that evidence." He added: "The scene search will take another couple of months give or take.

The fire at the Bismark House building in May (Copyright Unknown)

"At the same time, we have multiple lines of enquiry open around what may have happened in the building up to the fire itself and who may be responsible." Ms Kearsley adjourned the inquests for all four men until April next year for further review.

In a statement issued last month, GMP revealed the heartbreaking details of the last conversations the men had with their families more than 6,000 miles away. A spokesperson for the force said: "Uoc maintained regular contact with his wife until the date of the fire, at which time he said he was in a mill.

"Cuong arrived in the UK in June 2019 - he maintained regular contact with his wife and children but they have not heard from him since Saturday, May 7 2022. Duong arrived in the UK approximately 12 months ago - he last contacted his family in the month before the fire at which time he said he was residing in 'an abandoned house' whilst looking for work.

"Nam arrived in the UK in January 2022 - he last contacted his family on Wednesday, May 4 2022, at which time he said he was residing in ‘a derelict house’ in ‘Dam’, believed to be Oldham, whilst looking for work." Two men who were subsequently arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and other offences in connection with the case were released on bail.

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