Despite continued searches for the Chinese helicopter that went missing on Saturday afternoon, the possibility of finding the 19 people onboard alive was fading, according to the Chengdu Military Area Command.
"It's been more than 100 hours since the helicopter went missing in the quake zone, and chances are growing slimmer for the 19 people to remain alive," said an official with the headquarters of the rescue mission under the Chengdu Military Area Command.
As of 9pm yesterday, there was still no sight of the helicopter or the five crew and 14 quake victims onboard. Military sources said many aftershocks occurred in the suspected crash site in the past few days, causing landslides and altering local terrain, and difficulties were mounting for the search and rescue mission.
"We will go further to search for the helicopter and missing people and use more powerful technology," said the official.
Helicopters, remote sensing planes and powered parachute aircraft joined the hunt on Wednesday. Meanwhile, about 10,000 troops, paramilitary personnel, and even local residents were still scrambling through the steep mountains, dense bush and slippery tracks in a "blanket search."
Six special technical soldiers were airlifted into suspected crash areas yesterday for field observation.
A water-land armored car was being used to search the bottom of the Zipingpu dam. On Monday, President Hu Jintao instructed the rescue team to spare no efforts in the search.
The helicopter went missing as the crew, led by Senior Colonel Qiu Guanghua, was undertaking its 64th flight mission since the quake.
(Shanghai Daily June 5, 2008)