The three people on board a small airplane that crashed in a remote mountainous area in eastern Taiwan on Thursday all died of massive blood loss rather than from freezing temperatures, as was originally suspected, experts concluded yesterday.
Prosecutor Tsai Pai-ta (蔡佰達), forensics experts with the Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office and investigators from the Aviation Safety Council, examined the remains of the plane’s two pilots and an aerial photographer at a funeral parlor early yesterday.
They concluded that the pilot, Hsueh Chen-hao (薛晨浩), was killed by a severe wound to his head, Tsai said. Co-pilot Chang Ming-chin (張明欽) had bone fractures in the chest area and severe wounds on the right side of his back, Tsai said.
The photographer, Chien Yu-hsin (錢煜新), had his right lung pierced by an unknown object.
The experts concluded that the three died from massive blood loss, Tsai said, and he believed they were likely hit by a powerful external force when the airplane crashed.
Tsai would not rule out the possibility that the three men died soon after the crash from the loss of blood, judging from their wounds and fractures.
Responding to questions from the media, Tsai said the investigators found no signs that the pilots or photographer had frozen to death. The prosecutor did not answer questions on the cause of the accident or why the crash victims died even though their plane was found hanging in trees.
He said the Aviation Safety Council has launched an investigation into the crash and will release its findings as soon as they are ready.
The three bodies were recovered from their ROC Aviation BN-2 aircraft, coded B-68801 on Sunday, three days after the plane lost contact with ground control on Thursday during an aerial photography mission above a mountainous part of Hualien County.
The three-day lag between the crash and the moment when rescuers spotted the plane triggered public criticism of the authorities’ search and rescue operations.
While expressing her gratitude to those contributing to the search mission, Mao Ming-hua (毛明華), wife of the deceased co-pilot, criticized the search as disorderly and time-wasting.
“Letting search teams wonder around aimlessly in the mountains wasted the ‘golden’ 72 hours,” she said, calling for an overall review of the country’s rescue mechanisms.