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June 27, 2017

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Carpentry master, firefighter among TransAsia crash victims

TAIPEI -- More information was emerging Thursday about the victims of the TransAsia Airways plane crash a day earlier that claimed the lives of 48 people.

The Ministry of Culture's Bureau of Cultural Heritage confirmed Thursday that 82-year-old Yeh Ken-chuang (葉根壯), an important carpenter of traditional Taiwanese architecture, was among those aboard flight GE222 who were killed after the flight crashed on the outlying island county of Penghu the previous evening.

Yeh was certified as a preserver of timber framing (or "big woodworking") techniques by the Penghu county government in 2010, and on July 29 was listed as a candidate to be named a national-level preserver of the art, or a "living national treasure," bureau chief Shy Gwo-long (施國隆) told reporters.

Yeh specialized in designing and constructing large structures for Taiwan's traditional wooden architecture such as temples, but was also skilled in woodcarving and decoration.

He was revered as "Master Chuang" by fellow carpenters, using the last character of his first name to show affection. His works include Wang An Wu Fu Temple and Long Men Guan Yin Temple in Penghu.

As news continued to emerge about the victims, it was also revealed that 47-year-old firefighter Lee Ming-tsun was among the dead. He was discovered in the wreckage by his colleagues.

His fellow firefighters shouted "he's my brother!" when they found Lee's body, Penghu County Fire Bureau Chief Hung Yung-peng said Thursday, describing the firefighters as "shocked and saddened."

Lee was a leader of the Kaohsiung Harbor Fire Brigade's division in Penghu's Magong harbor, who was returning to Penghu from Kaohsiung after a holiday.

Lee served at the Kaohsiung brigade for 20 years. He was relocated to Magong over two years ago and was said to get along well with his colleagues.

Hung said the heavy rain and dark night made the rescue work difficult. Body parts were scattered around the site, he added.

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