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Mechanical failure blamed for copter crash

MECHANICAL failure is believed to be the reason why a helicopter plunged into the sea at Waigaoqiao Port yesterday leaving one man missing and three injured.

The helicopter had just taken off from the ice breaker Snow Dragon when it lost power and dived into the sea yesterday morning.

Mechanic Yang Yongchang is still missing and three others are stable in hospital, according to the Shanghai-based Labor Daily today.

Wu Lin, the boatswain of Snow Dragon, reported hearing a strange noise soon after the helicopter had taken off. When he saw the helicopter in the water he threw a lifebuoy towards the aircraft which was about 60 meters from the ship.

Yang Hua, the pilot, swam to the buoy and was rescued quickly. Another two crew stayed with the helicopter which floated for a short time before sinking. Nearby ships threw buoys, jackets and rafts to the men and they were pulled from the water quickly.

Tides and fog made the search for the sunken helicopter difficult but divers found the wreckage last night at 8.20pm. The wreckage was pulled out of the water at 11:03pm last night, 2 kilometers from where it had crashed.

A crash investigation team, with experts from the State Oceanic Administration, the Ministry of Transportation, the China Marine Search and Rescue Center and the China Flying Dragon General Aviation Company, arrived in Shanghai yesterday as the search for the missing man continued.

The helicopter had been due to leave the ship earlier in the morning but had had to postpone its flight because of heavy fog. The Zhijiu helicopter had been rented by the polar research ship from the Harbin-based China Flying Dragon General Aviation Company and was heading back to base at the end of its contract.

The Zhijiu-series are the most advanced China-made helicopters. They were used for security patrols during the Beijing Olympics and helped after the Sichuan earthquake last May. They have been used on previous Snow Dragon missions.


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