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Rough weather hampers search for missing Black Hawk helicopter

2018/02/08 21:56:01

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Rough weather has impeded the use of hydrophonic equipment to locate a missing Black Hawk helicopter in the sea near Orchid Island (Lanyu) off the southeastern coast of Taiwan, though search operations are ongoing, according to the Aviation Safety Council (ASC) Thursday.

The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, which belonged to the National Airborne Service Corps, disappeared near Lanyu late Monday while transporting a patient from Lanyu to Taitung in southeastern Taiwan.

The helicopter was carrying pilot, copilot, one mechanic, one nurse, the patient and a family member.

CNA graphic, photos courtesy of National Airborne Service Corps

It lost contact with the control tower and disappeared from radar screens three minutes after leaving Lanyu at 11:48 p.m. Monday night.

Search operations have been ongoing since the disappearance with an Aviation Safety Council (ASC) meeting convened Wednesday to discuss possible new measures.

ASC personnel used hydrophone equipment Thursday to search for the helicopter in the area where it is believed to have crashed.

An ASC official, Chang Wen-huan (張文環), said the transponder on the Black Hawk helicopter should send out a signal at a frequency of 37.5 Kilohertz after crashing into the sea, making it easier to locate.

However, the bad weather on Thursday made it difficult to locate the signal, Chang added.

According to the ASC, investigation personnel have already conducted eyewitness interviews, collected data and maintenance records.

Deputy Interior Minister Chiu Chang-yueh (邱昌嶽) noted that despite ongoing rescue operations in the wake of the earthquake in Hualien, the search for the helicopter will not be affected.

"Search and rescue will not be compromised," said Chiu, adding that the number of personnel involved has actually been increased.

(By Ku Chuan, Tyson Lu and William Yen)
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