A helicopter that went missing 2 months ago was finally recovered from the seabed today, April 12. The remains of two out of 6 passengers and crew were found in the fuselage.
The Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk, belonging to the National Airborne Services Corps, was on an emergency medical evac mission when it lost radio contact, and disappeared from radar screens at around 11:50pm, Monday evening, February 5, shortly after taking off from Orchid Island.
Three flight crew, an emergency medical nurse, a patient, and a family member of the patient were aboard when the helicopter went down in adverse weather conditions around 3 nautical miles off the coast of the island.
A massive search involving coast guard and navy failed to locate the missing aircraft in the ensuing days after the crash due to adverse weather and difficult ocean conditions. A transponder signal was detected February 10, but a definite location was not determined until March 6, when the wreckage was located in an oceanic trench close to 1 kilometer deep.
March 22, the Aviation Safety Council informed the government that it may take 2 to 3 months to salvage the wreckage.
China Times reported today that the fuselage was lifted from the seabed at around 2:00pm this afternoon, April 12. The wreckage consisted of the middle of the aircraft minus the forward section and tail section. A preliminary investigation suggested that the remains of two people inside belong to the nurse and the patient’s family member, based on their location within the aircraft and the fact that they were the only two females aboard. DNA tests will be conducted to confirm the identity of the remains.
The helicopter’s black box was also recovered and will be analysed in the coming days.