Suspected remains of F-16V pilot found

01/13/2022 11:13 PM
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Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Search and rescue teams have found what are believed to be the remains of the pilot who was flying a Taiwan Air Force F-16V fighter jet that crashed off the country's southwest coast on Tuesday, the military said late Thursday.

The suspected human remains and an aviator suit of 27-year-old Captain Chen Yi (陳奕) were found at around 4 p.m. near Dongshi Township in Chiayi County, near where eyewitness reported seeing the plane nosedive into the sea on Tuesday, according to the military.

Chiayi District prosecutors told CNA that the remains will be analyzed Friday and the findings will be released later in the day.

The body parts and aviator suit were found during a search and rescue effort by 348 personnel, deploying a ship, nine boats and 28 air sorties.

The search and rescue teams on Thursday also found more debris from the F-16V fighter jet.

Earlier in the day, a fisherman told reporters that he had found bone on the shore near the crash site, which had been taken away for analysis and identification. The Livestock Disease Control Center of Chiayi County later said, however, that the bone was from a cow, not a human.

On Thursday morning, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) went to Chiayi, where she was briefed by the military on the search and rescue efforts, and she also met with the pilot's family.

President Tsa Ing-wen (right) meet pilot Chen Yi
President Tsa Ing-wen (right) meet pilot Chen Yi's family Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office

The F-16V jet, with the serial number 6650, disappeared from radar screens at 3:23 p.m. Tuesday, about 30 minutes after it took off from Chiayi Air Base on a routine training mission with another aircraft.

At the time, the weather conditions and visibility were good, according to the military.

The aircraft had just completed a series of simulated missile launches, when it abruptly nosedived into the ocean, according to accounts given by another jet pilot, a ground controller, and other eyewitness in Chiayi.

An ad hoc team has since been formed to investigate the cause of the crash, and Taiwan's F-16 fighter jet fleet has been grounded for safety checks, the Air Force said.

A civilian, who reportedly witnessed the crash of the jet, has provided photos of the accident to the military, in the hope that they will help in the efforts to determine the cause of the crash, according to a friend of the witness. 

Photo that an amateur photographer provided to the military, allegedly showing the aftermath of the crash
Photo that an amateur photographer provided to the military, allegedly showing the aftermath of the crash

The witness, an amateur photographer who was in the Aogu Wetlands in Chiayi on Tuesday, captured photos of the F-16V fighter jet flying very low, then tumbling and spinning out of control, before nosediving into the ocean, the friend told reporters.

One of the photographs obtained by the CNA shows a huge water splash, apparently caused by a large object crashing into the sea.

(By Huang Kuo-fang, Su Mu-chun, Chiang Yi-ching and Joseph Yeh)

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