Helicopter Crash Kills Two During Salvage Effort
On Thursday afternoon, two were killed in a helicopter crash during pollution mitigation efforts for the grounding of the TS Taipei at New Taipei, Taiwan.
The pilot, Lin Chen-hsin, and a rescue team member, Tsai Tsung-ta were killed in the crash. Rescuers, including four helicopters and several Coast Guard Administration units, retrieved the three survivors within about an hour and a half. The copilot, Chu Yao-chung, suffered serious injuries and hypothermia, and is listed in critical condition; he is being treated with a form of artificial breathing aid used in cases of severe respiratory failure.
Helicopters from Taiwan's National Airborne Service Corps had safely evacuated the 21 crew of the TS Taipei earlier in the day, and Lin Chen-hsin's aircraft was transporting environmental inspectors to determine the severity of an oil spill resulting from the vessel casualty.
Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration said that the ship was leaking oil, and a containment boom had been deployed. She reportedly has 450 metric tons of fuel aboard.
The helicopter had just dropped off the inspection team aboard the Taipei before the crash.
The downing of the helicopter has received national attention in Taiwan. Premier Chang San-cheng expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, and said that the government “will provide the highest level of compensation for the victims’ families, because they died in line of duty.” He promised a thorough investigation of the cause of the aircraft crash.
The Taiwanese container ship TS Taipei reportedly went aground due to loss of propulsion. She was under way on a coastwise trip from Keelung to Taichung at the time of the grounding, according to her AIS reporting.
She is owned by regional intra-Asia carrier TS Lines, a Hong Kong-based private company with 72,000 TEU of smaller container vessels, mostly chartered. The TS Taipei is one of the company's two owned ships, according to Alphaliner.
TS Lines was not immediately available for comment.