Helicopter raised from waters off Gageo Island

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Helicopter raised from waters off Gageo Island

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The fuselage of the Coast Guard helicopter is salvaged Friday seven days after its deadly crash into the waters off Gageo Island during an emergency medical transport mission. Two dead crew were found in the fuselage. [NEWSIS]

Authorities searching for the helicopter that crashed into the sea near Gageo Island off the southwestern coast a week earlier recovered the fuselage with the remains of two crew members on Friday.

The Navy and the West Regional Headquarters of the Korea Coast Guard announced that the remains found in the chopper were of captain Choi Seung-ho, 52, and co-pilot Baek Dong-heum, 46.

The crash killed a third member of the crew, Park Geun-su, 29, who was found unconscious two hours after the crash but pronounced dead an hour later. A fourth emergency rescue crew member, Jang Yong-hoon, 29, is still unaccounted for.

The fuselage was found 1.2 kilometers (0.75 mile) south of Gageo Island on Thursday afternoon, nearly a week after it crashed on a mission on March 13 to evacuate a local with a medical emergency to a mainland hospital.

To recover the chopper from the bottom of the sea, which is about 75 meters (246 feet) under the surface, authorities dispatched the rescue ship Cheonghaejin and divers to the scene Thursday. Divers found the two victims strapped in their seatbelts. They were later identified after the fuselage was brought up to the rescue ship Friday morning.

The chopper was sent to Mokpo, South Jeolla, where it took off a week ago for further investigation of the cause of the accident.

The Coast Guard also said it will continue the search and rescue operation, with a total of 36 vessels and aircraft, to look for Jang.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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