Blackhawk joins search as bad weather hampers hunt for chopper
The Army yesterday reinforced both aircraft and the search team trying to find a helicopter and its crew of three that went missing on Saturday afternoon.
Air Force pilots flying the UH-1H Huey lost contact over the Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park that straddles Rayong and Chanthaburi provinces. The chopper was en route to provide supplies to an Air Force radar station.
Deputy Army spokesperson Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said Army chief General Theerachai Nakvanich ordered the dispatch of a Blackhawk and Mi-17 helicopters, as well as three 14-member operation teams to search for the missing chopper.
They would start searching as soon as they arrive at the scene, Sirichan said. But she noted that if the weather was bad, the search would begin today.
The missing crew includes two pilots, Squadron Leader Pasit Techasen and Flight Lt Alongkorn Chankrachan, along with a maintenance officer, Flight Sgt 1st Class Visut Puttharaksa.
Meanwhile, a team of 50 rescuers departed on foot to Padam, an area close to where the chopper went missing. They met with other teams of soldiers and local people who have been searching the area since Sunday.
Provincial commander Maj-General Suriya Pawaree said the search teams also focused on tips from local villagers in the area. They had also sent eight paramotors to sites where the aircraft was last seen.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed worry about the disappearance of the chopper and its crew yesterday, saying all parties were concerned and doing their best to locate them.
His deputy Prawit Wongsuwan said bad weather was causing poor visibility, which was the main obstacle preventing an aerial search. Authorities had to focus on operations on the ground, he said.