Malaysia chopper crash: Five bodies recovered, Philippine pilot still 'missing'

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines confirms the helicopter that crashed was of Philippine registration.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has confirmed that the helicopter that crashed on Thursday in Sarawak, Malaysia, was of Philippine registration.

The CAAP has informed that they would wait for the air accident report from its Malaysian counterpart.

Five Malaysians were killed in the chopper crash including Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Noriah Kasnon and Plantation Industries and ministry secretary-general Sundaran Annamalai. The other victims were identified as Noriah's husband Asmuni Abdullah and her assistant Ahmad Sobri Harun, as well as Kuala Kangsar MP Wan Mohammad Khair-Il Anuar Wan Ahmad.

The bodies of all the five Malaysian passengers were recovered by Sunday. Only the Filipino pilot, Capt Rudolph Rex Raagas, remained unaccounted for.

CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio has said that the helicopter, Eurocopter AS350B owned by GCA Skyline Aviation Inc., was on its way to the state capital Kuching from Betong in Sarawak when it went missing.

Initial reports from the Malaysian air authorities said the helicopter took off from Betong at 4:12pm on Thursday but lost contact with the control tower after 20 minutes of the take-off.

In an interview with The Star, the CAAP's Malaysian counterpart said that the helicopter had crashed 220km from Kuching.

According to Asia News Network, the Malaysian authorities are carrying out intensive search operations to find the pilot.