Seven killed in South Korea rescue helicopter crash
Rescue workers searched for survivors on Friday, 1 November 2019, after an ambulance helicopter carrying seven people crashed into waters off South Korea's eastern coast. Rescue official Seong Ho-seon said the helicopter had picked up an injured crab fisherman before it crashed around 23h30 (local time) on Thursday near the South Korea-controlled islets of Dokdo in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. South Korea deployed dozens of aircraft and vessels and more than 30 divers to search the area but no passengers were found as of Friday morning.
"We presume that the helicopter crashed into sea within two minutes after lift-off (in Dokdo)," Seong said during a televised briefing. Yonhap news agency also quoted a South Korean official as saying that the weakening tide had allowed rescuers to expand the search.
South Korean rescuers retrieved two bodies believed to be among the seven that went missing after their chopper crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from islets disputed with Japan, officials said on Sunday.
Three bodies had been located Saturday, including one found inside the crashed chopper sitting upside down on the seabed at a depth of 72 metres (240 feet).
Two of those bodies, both male, have been retrieved, the coast guard said on Sunday, adding that one was believed to be a fireman but it was still trying to identify the pair.
Dozens of divers were scouring the waters, authorities said, with navy and coast guard vessels as well as helicopters and airplanes mobilised for the search.
Seoul has controlled the islets in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, since 1945, when Tokyo’s colonial rule on the peninsula ended, while Japan still claims sovereignty over them.
The helicopter was planning to transport the injured fisherman to a hospital in the mainland city of Daegu when the incident happened.
According to Yonhap, the helicopter was manufactured by France-based Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter Group and can carry up to 28 passengers and fly at 250km (155 miles) per hour for five hours.
Source: Al Jazeera