Retrieved human tissue confirmed as belonging to missing pilot

01/14/2022 09:38 PM
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The search team continues to collect debris of the crashed F-16V fighter jet off the coast of Chiayi County. CNA photo Jan. 14, 2022
The search team continues to collect debris of the crashed F-16V fighter jet off the coast of Chiayi County. CNA photo Jan. 14, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) Chiayi County Chief Prosecutor Tsai Ying-chun (蔡英俊) confirmed late Friday that human tissue retrieved from the crash site of an F-16V fighter jet the previous day is that of missing pilot Air Force Captain Chen Yi (陳奕).

The test was conducted based on a DNA sample taken from Chen's mother, Tsai told CNA.

Earlier in the day, a military official said heavy-duty equipment and machinery could be deployed soon with the hope of finding Chen's remains after his F-16V fighter jet crashed off the coast of Chiayi County earlier this week.

Wang Tzu-li (王自立), an official with the Air Force's public affairs division, said heavy machinery including excavators and sand dredgers would be used to pump up mud and sand from the seafloor around the crash site.

"We will not give up until there is an answer," Wang said, adding that search and rescue efforts would continue even though the 72-hour "golden window" for finding the pilot had passed.

According to Wang, the location of the crash site has been determined, but the military believes the cockpit could be buried deep into the soft sand seafloor.

The F-16V jet piloted by Chen 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.

CNA photo Jan. 5, 2022
CNA photo Jan. 5, 2022

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

The jet was seen by Chiayi residents crashing into the sea near the Aogu Wetlands in Dongshi Township.

Late on Thursday, search and rescue teams said they had retrieved what were believed to be body parts and the badly damaged aviator suit worn by the 27-year-old pilot at around 4 p.m. near where eyewitness reported seeing the plane crash.

The discovery was made during search and rescue efforts by 348 personnel and after deploying a ship, nine boats and conducting 28 air sorties.

(By Chiang I-ching, Huang Kuo-fang and Ko Lin)

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