The Coast Guard has recovered the bodies of two people from the rescue chopper that crashed into the East Sea, officials said Sunday, with five others remaining missing.
The rescue chopper, carrying seven people, including an injured person, crashed into the East Sea on Thursday night shortly after its takeoff from the easternmost islets of Dokdo. The rescue chopper had apparently been on a mission to save the wounded person from a fishing boat.
The Coast Guard found two victims on Saturday. Their bodies have been retrieved and transported to the families.
On Sunday, rescue officials successfully lifted the fuselage of the firefighting helicopter from the waters near Dokdo.
They said a third victim trapped inside the chopper's body was lost along with some damaged parts over the course of the salvage. They had initially announced they found the first two victims near the tail rotor and the third victim inside the fuselage would be retrieved once the wreckage was lifted on to a Navy vessel.
One of the two victims found was determined to be a helicopter mechanic surnamed Seo, due to the clothing of the victim and his co-worker's identification, rescue officials said.
The rescue team said DNA results will confirm his identity as early as Monday.
The rescue team will continue the search efforts to locate the five missing, it said. The salvaged wreck will be moved to the port city of Pohang before it is delivered to Gimpo airport in western Seoul for further analysis. The exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined.
The rescue officials earlier unsuccessfully tried to reach the chopper's body underwater and said they decided to swiftly launch the salvage operation to retrieve the chopper and victim together.
The Donghae Coast Guard said earlier that its team managed to move the fuselage to safer waters by noon and launched the operation to lift the chopper onto the surface. The rescue workers had installed a mesh netting around the helicopter to begin the salvaging process.(Yonhap)