Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Premier orders a review of nighttime helicopter rescues

Staff writer, with CNA

Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday ordered a review of the policy on nighttime rescue assignments in view of a military helicopter crash during a mission on Monday.

The crash drew much public attention, Chen said during a Cabinet meeting at which he commissioned the Office of Disaster Management to collaborate with other government agencies to examine the issue.

Chen was responding to a Ministry of National Defense suggestion that the National Rescue Command Center, which coordinates the country’s search and rescue resources, should clarify the regulations and safety procedures for nighttime rescue missions.

An S-70C air force rescue helicopter was sent out on Monday night to airlift a crew member off a fishing boat off the southeastern coast, but the chopper crashed into the sea, leaving one serviceman injured and five others missing.

An Indonesian deckhand had called for help after he began experiencing chest pains, but doctors found no signs of cardiopulmonary problems. They said his symptoms could have been caused by psychological problems.

The accident has raised questions about whether emergency helicopter services are being abused.

A relative of one of the missing servicemen urged the authorities to start charging for such services, to avoid people using rescue helicopters as an “air taxi” service and the government should ask people who apply for such help in non-urgent situations to pay, the relative said, asking not to be named.

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