Mountaineers, helicopter still missing in northern Burma

Mountaineers, helicopter still missing in northern Burma

Thai army authorities have asked their Burmese counterparts for a progress report on the search for a Thai civilian helicopter missing in mountainous terrain in Kachin State since 27 September.

Lt-Gen Sathit Pittharat, commander of the 3rd Army, reportedly ordered Col Amnat Srimak, commander of a unit of the 7th Infantry Regiment in Mae Hong Son province, to inquire about the fate of the seven-seat Eurocopter EC130 B4 helicopter owned by Advance Aviation Co.

The helicopter went missing on the afternoon of 27 September during a flight to supply food to a search and rescue team looking for two missing Burmese climbers on Hkakabo Razi mountain, at 5,881 metres the highest in Southeast Asia. It is in Kachin State.

Col Amnat, the Thai chairman of the Thailand-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) in Mae Hong Son, forwarded the inquiry to Lt Col Len Aung, commander of Myanmar’s 430th Rapid Movement Battalion and to the Burmese chairman of the TBC there.

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Lt Col Len Aung reportedly replied that the search was continuing for the Thai helicopter and he would inform them as soon as there was any information.

The helicopter carried a Thai pilot, a Burmese pilot and a Kachin local. An earlier report identified the Thai pilot as Capt Chatchawal Thanthong. On its website, Advance Aviation Co said the pilot was experienced and had more than 9,500 flight hours.

The helicopter took off from Putao airport at 2.20pm on 27 September. Poor visibility was reported along its planned flight path. It was due to reach its destination and drop food supplies within about 30 minutes, but did not make it there.

The helicopter did not send out an emergency signal that is normally transmitted upon an unusual impact. Consequently it was assumed the aircraft had made an emergency landing somewhere.

 

This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 7 October 2014.

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