Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Rescuers tell of finding last body from Flight GE235

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A prayer and the smell of lilies helped rescuers find the last missing body of the 43 victims that perished when TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 crashed into the Keelung River on Feb. 4.

Rescue workers Hu Chin-tsai (胡進財) and Lin Shih-bin (林世檳) of the Taipei Rescue Association told their stories at a ceremony on Wednesday, in which the Ministry of Transportation and Communications recognized the contributions of 93 agencies that participated in the rescue efforts.

Hu said he would never forget the afternoon of Feb. 12, when he and other rescuers were searching for the body of the last victim. Hu was operating a rescue boat with Lin on board.

“We were both muttering: ‘Buddy, it has been a few days already. It’s time for you to come out, so everybody can rest,’” he said.

Hu said he remembered smelling the fragrance of lilies soon afterward, similar to the flowery smell found in funeral homes, which gave him the feeling that he would soon find the body of the victim.

Before Hu knew it, he and Lin both saw human hair floating on the river and later confirmed that it was the body that they had been searching for.

Hu said he believed he was destined to find the last body, adding that three rescue boats had passed through the exact same spot where the body was found before they arrived.

Hu works at Taipei City Hospital, while Lin is a borough warden in Taipei’s Zhongshan District. Both have 20 to 30 years of experience in rescuing people, having participated in disaster relief work when the nation was hit by a massive earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, and during Typhoon Nari in 2001 and Typhoon Morakot in 2009.

Statistics from the ministry showed that 1,803 motor vehicles and 585 boats were employed to rescue survivors and retrieve the bodies of deceased victims.

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