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Thousands attend funeral of Cardinal Paul Shan

The China Post news staff--A light utility plane that had been missing for two days was found lying in a mountainous area in Eastern Taiwan yesterday, but it remains unknown whether any of its three crew members survived the crash, aviation officials said.

According to officials from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), the Dapeng Airlines BN-2 aircraft was spotted from the air at 9:55 a.m. at a location about 30 kilometers west of Yuli, Hualien County.

Officials at the Civil Aeronautics Administration pointed out that the plane was found outside the search and rescue area.

Local media yesterday quoted rescuers as saying that the discovery site is over 10 kilometers away from the area they were sent to in the first rescue mission by the National Search and Rescue Command Center (NSRCC). Local cable news TVBS suggested that the crew members had a good chance of surviving the crash as the plane was found largely intact, but that the failure of the authorities to spot the crash site correctly wasted the “golden 72 hours” for rescue.

CAA officials explained that the plane's emergency locator transmitter (ELT) sent multiple signals after the plane lost contact with the airline. Nine of the ELT signals pointed to a site about 1 kilometer away from the crash site while the first ELT signal mis-located the plane by more than 10 kilometers. CAA officials said they had suggested the NSRCC to base their search on the nine ELT concurrent signals, but the NSRCC used the information from the first ELT signal, as well as data from military and civilian radars in its initial search.

There was no sign of the pilot, the co-pilot and the photographer who were on board when the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers Thursday, the officials said.

The BN-2 looked mostly intact and there was no sign that there had been an explosion following what seemed to be a forced landing, said Dapeng Vice President Ouyang Chung-heng.

“No significant damage to the body of the aircraft was noticed, but it is hard to say for sure because we've got only a blurry photo (of the plane) from the air,” Ouyang said.

Rescuers had difficulties reaching the site which is at an altitude of 2,800 meters.

Helicopters carrying rescuers were dispatched to the rescue mission, but some of them were forced to return because of bad weather, the NSRCC stated.

A team of nine rescuers was also prevented from reaching the site on foot due to heavy rain, the center said. But the team could reach the site in three hours if the weather improves, the center added.

The Dapeng BN-2 was on an aerial photography mission when it radioed distress calls and then lost contact with air traffic controllers Thursday.

Those aboard were identified as pilot Hsuey Chen-hao, co-pilot Chang Ming-chin and aerial photographer Chien Yu-hsin.

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Altar boys hold a picture of the late Cardinal Shan at his funeral in St. Dominic Catholic High School, yesterday. Thousands of attendees from around the world came and bade the cardinal tearful goodbyes.

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