Xinhua News Agency

Body of Antarctic mechanic found eight days after crash

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2009, 12:00am

The body of Yang Yongchang - the mechanic missing after a helicopter from the Chinese Antarctic expedition vessel Xue Long crashed near Shanghai - was found yesterday after an eight-day search, mainland media reported.

Xinhua said the body had been found floating in Shanghai Bay near a wharf of the Zhenhua Port Machinery Company at about 9am after the Shanghai Public Security Bureau received an emergency call from company staff. It was 8km from where the helicopter crashed into the East China Sea on April 12.

Police said the body, in a dark red sweater and blue jeans, was identified as Yang's from his mobile phone and identity cards found with it.

'It should be Mr Yang according to the body characteristics and its belongings,' a police spokesman said. 'But a DNA test will be conducted for a final confirmation.

'We have also informed Yang's family and asked them to make a positive identification later.'

Three other people in the helicopter when it crashed - pilot Yang Hua and mechanics Li Baohui and Tang Lijun - have been released after treatment in hospital.

Xinhua said the cause of the accident was still under investigation but implied that fog was thick at the time of the crash. The authorities have denied reports hinting at incompetence on the part of the mechanics.

The helicopter crashed and sank near the Yangtze River estuary just a minute after lifting off from the deck of the Xue Long. The vessel carried 140 scientists, technicians and sailors on its most recent expedition.

Xinhua said the wreckage of the helicopter had been found on the day of the crash, but fog delayed the rescue of the missing crew members.

The Xue Long left Shanghai in October for a 173-day trip to the Antarctic, the longest such Chinese expedition. It left China's Zhongshan Station for home on March 9 and arrived in Shanghai on April 10.