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A man was killed in a helicopter crash near a popular Hong Kong attraction on Sunday.
The aircraft went down at 5.29pm near the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, a conservation and education centre in the New Territories.
A police source named the dead pilot as 49-year-old Andrew Wong Fai-hung, a lawyer with Pansy Leung Tang & Chua Solicitors. The source said the married father of three had his pilot licence renewed on Sunday.
Witnesses described seeing the helicopter, believed to be a Robinson R44, break apart in mid-air moments before it crashed into a slope at the back of the farm’s general administration office.
Emergency services, including 15 fire engines and 10 ambulances, raced to the scene and discovered the burning wreckage of the helicopter spread over a 100-metre area. Authorities said the fire was extinguished at 5.44pm and there were no reports of other casualties at the farm, which had closed to the public at 4.30pm.
Jonathan Ho Wang-leung, from the Air Accident Investigation Authority, said the pilot had taken off in the privately owned helicopter from Shek Kong Airfield at 4.40pm, for what was supposed to be a 90-minute flight.
The airfield houses units of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, as well as being open for civilian use at the weekend.
A witness said the helicopter did not appear to be flying too high in the moments before the crash.
“I heard it flying above my head,” he said. “Its engine stopped suddenly then ran again. The sound was strange. And then I looked up, and saw the tail come off the body and it fell on a slope.”
Images and video clips posted online showed flames and black smoke billowing out from a wooded area.
A section of Lam Kam Road near the farm was briefly closed after the accident, but reopened soon afterwards. The farm itself would be closed on Monday, a spokesman said.
Ho said it was too early to speculate on what might have caused the crash or whether the helicopter had broken up in mid-air as witnesses had suggested.
Pansy Leung Sun-chun, a partner at the firm where Wong worked, expressed her condolences to his family, and said he was an experienced flier who had been doing so for many years.
“Andrew was an intelligent, diligent, trustworthy solicitor,” she said. “He was an amicable, helpful, generous and considerate person. It is a great loss to us as a colleague and friend.”
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum
This article Helicopter crashes at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong, killing 49-year-old pilot first appeared on South China Morning Post