A MAINLAND colleague of Hongkong victim Pan Sui-pang, who was killed in the latest airline crash in China, had a narrow escape in the air disaster and only suffered minor injuries, his Hongkong employer said yesterday. Identified as Mr Fang, he was one of the 108 passengers and five crew members on board the Beijing-bound Chinese Northwest Airlines flight that failed to take off and crashed into a lake at Yinchuan airport in Ningxia province last Friday. ''The mainland employee is from our Beijing office's staff. He was also on board the aircraft and probably sat next to Mr Pan. He was injured but not in a critical condition,'' said Euro Therm Ltd account manager Wong Mo-kee. She said Mr Fang was accompanying Mr Pan and their British client, William Goldsworthy, who was also killed in the accident, from Beijing to Yinchuan on business and had planned to return to Beijing last Friday. Mr Pan, 35, is survived by his widow, who left for Yinchuan with his boss and elder brother last week, to identify the body and make arrangements for the return of the remains to Hongkong and compensation. Ms Wong said she was saddened and shocked by Mr Pan's death. She described him as ''a very nice and smart hardworking man, who had a very good relationship with his colleagues''. According to the Deputy Director of Ningxia Foreign Affairs Department, Ms Cheng Donghui, about 30 passengers including one French and one Indonesian, were now in hospital and the majority were in a fair condition. One crew member also survived the crash, she added. She confirmed that a team of three British Aerospace investigators arrived in Yinchuan yesterday and the bodies of the foreign victims would be transported to Hongkong soon. Investigations were under way and the Chinese aviation authorities were studying compensation terms, Ms Cheng said. She revealed most of the victims were drowned when the aircraft plunged into the lake after it failed to take off. Meanwhile, there was confusion last night about the number of passengers killed in the accident. While Ms Cheng said the death toll was 55, a report by Xinhua (the New China News Agency) claimed 59 passengers had died.