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September 17, 2009

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Chopper rescue pilots get 'night vision'

THE regional sea rescue force, responsible for life-saving missions in the East China Sea, had begun training helicopter pilots and salvage crews to conduct night operations, officials said yesterday.

Authorities said more choppers would be put into service during the next two years, a move to set up a wider rescue range covering land, islands and sea.

"There is still huge room to upgrade equipment and improve skills," said Zhang Jinshan, deputy director of the state's emergency response bureau.

Shanghai-based Flying Service Rescue Team, a part of Donghai Rescue Bureau, has already been equipped with devices such as night-vision goggles. Pilots are sometimes asked on night patrols.

The team was expected to carry out night salvage operations in two to three years, said Zhang.

Two mid-sized rescue choppers would arrive in Shanghai by the end of November, officials said. In two years a much bigger chopper would arrive, one of two ordered in August.

The team now has two helicopters with 14 flying crew and will play a major part in rescue efforts during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

The team normally responds to emergencies at sea near Shanghai, in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and in southeast Fujian Province.

The Donghai bureau has saved 6,866 people since it was set up in 2003.


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