Signs of crashed chopper found: officials
SEOUL/POHANG/DAEGU, South Korea-- Fourteen hours after search operations began to find a helicopter that crashed near the Dokdo islets in the East Sea, fire authorities said they have located signs of the chopper.
A deep-water diver, part of the rescue force, reportedly tracked down the location of the chopper at 2:40 p.m. based on underwater signals coming from what is assumed to be the helicopter that went missing late Thursday.
The missing chopper took off from Dokdo at around 11:26 p.m. before falling into waters near the islets in just a few minutes. Seven South Koreans, including an injured person from a fishing boat, a friend and five rescue officials were reportedly on board.
The National Fire Agency said it introduced the EC-225 Super Puma long-range passenger transport helicopter, developed by Eurocopter, in 2016.
The two pilots of the doomed chopper were both veterans with at least 17 years of career experience either in the military or civilian sector, according to the agency.
The model is the same as the helicopter that crashed off the coast of Norway in April 2016. That chopper's main rotor blades separated from its body, causing a crash that killed all 13 people aboard.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon ordered relevant ministries to put in full-fledged efforts to rescue survivors and search for missing passengers.
President Moon Jae-in ordered a safety inspection of the crashed model, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung.
The missing chopper can carry up to 28 passengers and fly at 324 kph.
The crashed EC-225 chopper and an additional one had been in operation by local fire authorities and were mostly used to rescue people and fight wildfires. The other one is in service to cover Seoul and the nearby Gyeonggi Province.
Source: Yonhap News Agency