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October 27, 2009

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China helps US find lost Korean War bomber

THE Chinese armed forces have reviewed key information in their military archives to locate the site where a US bomber crashed 59 years ago, hoping to retrieve the remains of some of the 15 crew who were on board.

Archivists with China's People's Liberation Army said yesterday they could very likely recover the remains of personnel on the B-29, which crashed on a hill in Guangdong Province on November 5, 1950.

The crew of the air mission was listed by the US Defense Department as missing in action during the Korean War (1950-1953).

Under a memorandum signed by China and the United States, China promised to search millions of PLA records for evidence relating to the remains of missing military personnel.

Primary research of the archives has found more than 100 documents connected with the missing crew.

Senior Colonel Li Gang, deputy director general of the PLA Archives Department, said the department provided at least four valuable archives in connection with the crash.

Down in flames

The archivists discovered that a B-29 Superfortress bomber caught fire and crashed while flying over Raoping County, Guangdong, in 1950. Fifteen crew members, including a woman, were found dead at the site by local residents.

The archivists visited the crash site and interviewed 19 witnesses who helped them identify the burial site of at least one body.

Guided by 73-year-old witness Lin Zhengping, archivists identified an area covering about 100 square meters where the US remains were most likely to be found.

Xu Yueshu, another witness, recalled: "The adults buried the remains. When I got up there I saw many of the aircraft's pieces scattered everywhere. I remember very clearly that one quite complete body was buried on the mountain ridge."

The PLA archives show that villagers found a parachute, rifles, a revolver, spoons, documents in English and a pen at the crash site. Four nearly complete bodies were buried at the site.

"The sites of buried bodies are likely unrecognizable due to natural disasters such as floods in the past 59 years, which might have moved the mud and rocks, so it is extremely difficult to search for the remains," said Song Chuanfu, an expert in the PLA Archives Department.

"But we think that if we can receive payment for using specialist equipment, the possibility of finding the remains is quite high."


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