Three bodies found after South Korean helicopter crash near disputed islets

Rescuers looking for the bodies of the missing people after the helicopter crash. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 November 2019

Three bodies found after South Korean helicopter crash near disputed islets

  • The helicopter picked up an injured fisherman from Dokdo
  • the machine was found at a depth of 72 meters

SEOUL: South Korean rescuers located three bodies believed to be among seven who went missing after their chopper crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from islets disputed with Japan, officials said Saturday.
The helicopter had just picked an injured fisherman up from Dokdo, which is known as Takeshima in Japan, when it went down on Thursday night.
One body was found inside the chopper located at a depth of 72 meters, 600 meters south of the islets, while the other two were found in the water nearby, a Coast Guard representative told reporters.
The crashed chopper -- which rescuers located on Friday -- sat upside down on the seabed, he said, adding its tail had broken off and had been found 110 metres away.
It was not yet possible to identify the three bodies, he said, adding that a search operation was underway to retrieve them and find the other four still missing.
The bodies were found by an unmanned submarine, although divers would attempt to retrieve them manually for fear using the submarine's "robot-arm" could damage the remains.
"We will do our best till the end to bring those missing back to their families," he added.
Ships and divers from the defense ministry and members of the National Fire Agency and civilian volunteers have been mobilized for the search operation, authorities said.
The crashed chopper is a Eurocopter EC225, made by the European aerospace corporation Airbus.
The seven people on board were five rescuers, the fisherman and a civilian.
Seoul has controlled the islets in the Sea of Japan -- or East Sea -- since 1945, when Tokyo's brutal colonial rule on the peninsula ended, while Japan still claims sovereignty over them.


Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

Updated 16 min 35 sec ago

Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

  • The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network
  • They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks

ISLAMABAD: Three Taliban prisoners who were to be freed in exchange for an American and an Australian national, both kidnapped in 2016, are still in custody in Bagram prison, north of the capital Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Friday.
The three Taliban prisoners did not show up at an exchange site that had been agreed upon with the US, though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said they would be freed.
Mujahid had no explanation for the no-show.
The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network. They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks.
Mujahid said the professors are still in Taliban custody.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Ghani said the “conditional release” was a very hard decision to make.
Prisoner releases were a key point during peace talks between the US and Taliban last year. US President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks in September, following a spate of violent attacks in Kabul that killed more than a dozen people, including a US soldier.
The prisoner exchange was seen as a possible door to restarting the talks. US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has crisscrossed the region in recent weeks meeting with Washington’s NATO allies, as well as Russia, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Ghani has repeatedly demanded his government be included in talks with the Taliban, who have refused saying the Afghan government is an American puppet.
Ghani is now in the middle of a controversial contest for his job as president following Afghanistan’s Sept. 28 elections, which drew allegations of widespread misconduct and fraud.
Preliminary results were supposed to be released on Thursday, but have once again been postponed.
Ghani had hoped a big win in the presidential polls would solidify his political position, but the recount of ballots has been challenged by his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power in Afghanistan’s coalition government.
That government was cobbled together after the 2014 presidential elections, which were so deeply overwhelmed by allegations of fraud that the United States stepped in to broker a power sharing agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.