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'Black box' found in wreckage

AVIATION authority investigators are decoding a "black box" device found among the wreckage of the helicopter that crashed on Sunday at Shanghai's Waigaoqiao Port. One mechanic is still missing at sea, officials said yesterday.

The China-made helicopter was carrying four men when it plunged into the water at 11:20am on Sunday, a minute after taking off from Snow Dragon, or Xuelong, China's only icebreaker ship. Pilots Yang Hua and Li Baohui, and Tang Lijun, another mechanic, were immediately rescued with non-fatal injuries.

The wreckage was pulled out of the water around midnight Sunday and is being examined by the aviation authority.

Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration said hope of finding the missing mechanic, 50-year-old Yang Yongchang, was "extremely dim" by yesterday afternoon. But the search and rescue team was still patrolling the crash site, at the mouth of the Yangtze River.

"Our rescue force has been going all out and we're wishing for a miracle," a maritime official said yesterday.

From the time of the crash until yesterday, surface water temperatures ranged from 14.5 to 16.5 degrees Celsius, according to the maritime authority.

An average, humans can only survive for around six hours floating in seas of 15 degrees Celsius.

The Civil Aviation Administration Bureau of East China told Shanghai Daily yesterday its investigators had found amid the helicopter's wreckage a device used to record audio inside the cabin. It is being decoded to find out what caused the crash, Qin Gang, of the bureau, said yesterday.

The helicopter was not installed with a device to keep a technical record of the flight, investigators found.


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