Update on the crash site search


Rescuers are still searching for a missing U.S. pilot one day after a light aircraft crashed into a lake in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, local authorities said.

The accident occurred around 1 p.m. on Tuesday when a Lancier aircraft with pilot David Riggs and a Chinese translator onboard crashed into Caihu Lake in Liaoning’s capital city of Shenyang, during a trial flight.

Rescue forces, including a 11-member team from the Beihai rescue bureau under the Ministry of Communications, were dispatched to the scene immediately after the accident.

The translator was pulled from the water but died later in hospital. Riggs remains unaccounted for.

“During the six hours following the crash, hundreds of rescuers searched the surface and underwater, retrieving some parts of the aircraft,” said Deng Yong, head of the rescue team.

The scope of the search has been expanded to more than 70 meters around the impact, according to Zhang Fang, chief rescuer from the Dalian branch of Beihai rescue bureau.

A seat and two seat-backs have been salvaged with another seat yet to be found, leading to speculation that the missing pilot was probably fastened to the seat and remained trapped in the aircraft.

“The aircraft crashed into the water, which badly damaged it and decreased the likelihood that Riggs will be found alive,” Zhang said.

The search has been hampered by poor visibility and low temperatures which have meant divers cannot spend more than half an hour underwater.

Riggs is an experienced Hollywood aerobatic pilot who had set several speed records worldwide. He came to Shenyang to attend the “AOPA-China Fly-In 2013″ air show which is to be held from Sept.20 to Sept. 22 in Faku County.

Wang Dawei, chief of the organizing committee office, said a total of 12 aircraft are scheduled to attend the air show from Sweden, the U.S., France and the Republic of Lithuania.

“Safety watchdogs from local civil aviation authorities have assured us that our security and organization has reached industry standards,” said Shen Haiqing, general director of the air show.

The accident will not disturb the show, he said, adding that security will be strengthened.

The aircraft was assembled at a local airport, he said, but the craft has undertaken three successful trial flights before the accident, while the pilot himself had affirmed that the aircraft was in good condition.

The aircraft, which is too small to be equipped with black box, belongs to the MACH 1 aerobatic team from the United States.

The CAAC Northeast Regional Administration has set up workteam to investigate into the cause of the accident, according to Wang Hongbo, director of security office of the bureau.

The investigation will require time due to the lack of a black box, the unaccounted for pilot and the craft having been torn apart in the crash, Wang added.

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