|Helicopter wreckage to be salvaged from French river in search of clues to tycoon Lam Kok’s death
French police launched a delicate operation to lift a helicopter from a river bed for clues into a crash in which Chinese tycoon Lam Kok, 46, and French winemaker James Gregoire were killed along with the billionaire’s son Shun Yu Kok, and financial adviser, Peng Wang, AFP reports.
(Pictured, a relative of Lam Kok, walks on the banks of the river Dordogne, in Lugon-et-l'Ile-du-Carnay, near Bordeaux, southwestern France)
“We are putting in ballasts which will be inflated at the same time to lift the wreckage,'' Colonel Ghislain Rety, the head of the gendarmerie in the Gironde region, where the chateau is located, told AFP.
“It's a delicate operation, the aim is to preserve the wreckage in its current form for small details that can explain why it crashed,'' he said.
Rety said it could take months to recover the bodies.
“We can recover them today or in six months but we will find them,'' he said.
“A body was found on Saturday in the Dordogne, it was a person who had disappeared in the river in April,'' Rety said, adding that April accident had occurred about 30 kilometers from the site of the helicopter crash.
The investigators conducted a sonar search on Sunday night to scan the river for the bodies. The scans were to resume along with helicopter searches across a 20-kilometer stretch along the river from where the chopper crashed.
The wreckage of the Robinson R44 helicopter, which is used by the police and army in several countries, was located early Saturday in seven meters of water.
Only the body of Lam’s 12-year-old son Shun, has been recovered.
“Every lead is being followed – the weather, the rules, maintenance, the pilot's qualifications and the characteristics of the flight,'' said Philippe Mole of France's air transport investigation department.
The Chinese tycoon's wife had been meant to be on the doomed flight, but declined at the last minute.
She and her husband head a Hong Kong company, Brilliant, that dealt in upmarket teas, luxury hotels and the construction and management of shopping centers.
On Thursday, they had bought the Chateau de La Riviere and its 65-hectares of vineyards for a reported 30 million euros with the aim of turning it into an elite tea- and wine-tasting retreat and plans to build a hotel nearby.
After a lavish event Friday, publicizing their purchase, Gregoire offered the couple a helicopter ride over their new property.
Gregoire himself had bought the property in 2003 -- a year after the previous owner died in a plane crash.