Body found in France near site of crash that killed tycoon Kok Lam

Search efforts ongoing in France for remains of Kok Lam since helicopter went down last month

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 1:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 9:17am

A body has been retrieved near the site of a helicopter crash in France last month that killed Hong Kong-based tycoon Kok Lam, whose remains were not found.

The body was found on Saturday on the banks of the Dordogne River in southwest France, some 10 kilometres from the spot where the helicopter crashed into the river in December carrying four people.

A paramilitary police source said that the body was unrecognisable but that it had not been ruled out that it could be one of the missing victims of the crash.

Search efforts have been continuing to find the remains of Kok, a 46-year-old tea-and-property magnate, his interpreter and financial adviser, Peng Wang, and James Gregoire, a French entrepreneur who was the pilot of the helicopter.

Only the body of Kok's 12-year-old son, Kok Shun-yu, was found a day after the crash, inside the wrecked helicopter.

The crash occurred while they had been on a celebratory aerial tour of a chateau estate that the Chinese businessman had just bought from Gregoire. Kok and his wife bought the Chateau de la Riviere and its 65 hectares of vineyards for a reported €30 million (HK$318 million) with the aim of turning it into a tea- and wine-tasting retreat.

The wreckage of the Robinson R44 helicopter, used by the police and army in several countries, was located a few days after the crash in seven metres of water.

Gregoire had bought the property in 2003 - a year after the previous owner had died in a plane crash.

Kok was head of the Brilliant Group, but friends said his wife, Lau Sheung-wan, also known as Liu Xiangyun, was the real brains behind many of the company's projects. She reportedly decided at the last minute not to fly as she is afraid of helicopters.

A spokesman for the Immigration Department of Hong Kong said it had been following up on the incident through the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong and the Chinese consulate in France and knew that the consulate had been in touch with the family of those affected by the crash.

He said the department would keep in close communications with the authorities to follow up on the incident and provide all possible assistance to the family.

The Chinese consulate in France did not respond to the South China Morning Post's inquiries by press time yesterday.