One year on from a devastating mill fire which claimed the lives of four Vietnamese men, their remains are yet to be repatriated, police confirmed today on the anniversary of the fatal blaze.
Fire broke out at Bismark House Mill on Bower Street, Oldham, on May 7 last year but it wasn’t until July 23 that demolition workers at the mill found human remains. Police found evidence part of the mill was being used as a cannabis farm.
A painstaking process of identification and DNA testing established four men from Vietnam died in the fire: Uoc Van Nguyen, 31, Cuong Van Chu, 39, Duong Van Nguyen, 29, and 21-year-old Nam Thanh Lee. Police believe they are likely to have been victims of modern-day slavery.
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Today, on the first anniversary of the fire, GMP confirmed their remains were yet to be repatriated to their families in Vietnam.
A senior police officer said officers were ‘following all due processes to reunite the bereaved with the remains of their loved ones as soon as is possible’.
A statement from GMP said the force was working with the coroner and other agencies ‘to complete the formal identification process and organise repatriation’.
Two men who were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and other offences in connection with the case were released on bail last year as a criminal investigation into the fire continues.
Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, GMP’s Disaster Victim Identification lead, said: “One year on from the fire and nine months since the first remains were recovered, the thoughts of all those involved in this operation remain with the loved ones of Uoc, Cuong, Duong and Nam.
“A team visited them in the Autumn and, via family liaison officers and interpreters, they remain in contact with the families as the investigation and repatriation efforts continue.
“We are really thankful for the patience they have shown us since July. Following the conclusion of the site search, officers from the investigation team are continuing to follow lines of enquiry to identify any criminal offences and ensure those responsible face justice, whilst the repatriation team are following all due processes to reunite the bereaved with the remains of their loved ones as soon as is possible.”
Anyone with information is being urged to contact Greater Manchester Police via 101. International callers can contact GMP via +441618725050. Information can also be submitted in English or Vietnamese via the Major Incident Public Portal.
Anyone who would like to remain anonymous can share information through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.