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May 29, 2017

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Plane crash victims died of blood loss: experts

The China Post news staff--The three people aboard a Dapeng Airlines BN-2 plane, which crashed in a remote mountainous area in Eastern Taiwan's Hualien County on Aug. 30, all died of massive blood loss, rather than from freezing temperatures, as was originally suspected, experts said yesterday.

Prosecutor Tsai Pai-ta and forensic experts with the Hualien District Prosecutors Office, as well as investigators from the Aviation Safety Council, examined the remains of the plane's two pilots and aerial photographer at a funeral parlor yesterday morning.

They concluded that the pilot, Hsueh Chen-hao, was killed by a severe wound to his head. Several bones in his face were also broken, according to Tsai.

Co-pilot Chang Ming-chin had fractures in his chest and suffered severe wounds on the right side of his back, Tsai said. As for the photographer, Chien Yu-hsin, his right lung was pierced by an unknown object, and bones in his hands were also fractured.

Forensic experts concluded that the three died from massive blood loss, according to Tsai. Given that all three suffered fractures on the right sides of their bodies, Tsai said they were likely hit by a powerful external force when the airplane crashed and probably died of massive blood loss soon after.

Responding to questions from the media, Tsai said that the investigators found no signs that the pilots and photographer had frozen to death. Forensic experts have taken samples of organs from the remains of the deceased for further checks, Tsai said.

The prosecutor did not answer questions regarding the cause of the accident or why the victims died given that their plane was found hanging in trees, saying that the Aviation Safety Council has launched an investigation into the accident.

An ad hoc panel composed of four officials from the council, two officials from the Civil Aeronautics Administration and two representatives from Dapeng Airlines arrived at the crash site yesterday morning to study the possible cause of the crash. They spent three hours collecting potential evidence.

The panel will move to analyze the evidence before making conclusions on the real cause of the crash.

The remains of the three involved in the crash were recovered from the aircraft on Sunday, three days after the plane lost contact with ground control on Aug. 30 while on an aerial photography mission above a mountainous part of Hualien County.

The three-day lag between the crash and discovery triggered public criticism of authorities' inefficiency in executing search and rescue operations.

While expressing her gratitude to those who contributed to the search mission, Mao Ming-hua, the wife of the deceased co-pilot, criticized the organizers of the search, calling it disorderly and inefficient.

"Letting search teams wander around aimlessly in the mountains completely wasted the critical 72 hours (for rescuing stranded victims)," she said. Mao also called for an overall review of the country's rescue mechanism. She questioned why the authorities involved did not ask the military, which has professional search and rescue equipment, to assist in the operation from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Hsueh Shao-jieh, the son of pilot Hsueh Chen-hao, issued a three-point statement on behalf of the victims' family members after learning the cause of their deaths. Through the statement, the victims' family members extended gratitude to the National Search and Rescue Command Center, as well as private rescue teams, for their efforts in the rescue operation; moreover, they expressed their hope that the center will increase its cooperation with private rescue organizations; finally, they also expressed the hope that the center and private rescue teams will keep family members of victims informed of the latest progress in future missions.

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