A Chinese billionaire and his 12-year-old son are among four people who are believed to have died after a helicopter crashed over a French vineyard that the man had just purchased. Officials are still searching for three missing bodies.
According to RFI, the 46-year-old Lam Kok was head of Hong Kong-based Brilliant group, specializing in luxury teas and hotels. He had just purchased the Château de La Rivière vineyard in Bordeaux and was touring the property in a helicopter with the previous owner James Grégoire, who was piloting, along with an interpreter and his 12-year-old son.
Emergency workers pulled a body from the helicopter after finding the wreckage in the Dordogne river. It was at first believed to be the 12-year-old boy, but according to the Telegraph, the body is now believed to be that of the interpreter.
According to the same report, French officials have said that parts of the chopper’s fuselage have been retrieved but strong currents in the cold waters were complicating the search of the three missing.
Earlier in the day, Mr Gregoire had introduced Mr Lam to the chateau staff and hosted a dinner for him, as well as putting on a press conference for local media. When the helicopter flight did not return after 20 minutes, other people at the event contacted emergency services, who launched a search using emergency helicopters, police dogs and around 100 officers on foot. Witnesses to the crash said that shortly afterwards, they saw two people struggling in the river, which was in full winter flow.
Lam’s wife, Liu Xiangyun, had pulled out of the flight last minute, saying that she was “scared of helicopters”. In a strange stroke of fate, the previous owner of the Château de La Rivière had also died in an aircraft crash in 2002.