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Chinese Hotelier Feared Dead In French Helicopter Crash

posted 21 Dec 2013, 11:42 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Dec 2013, 11:43 ]

Chinese hotel magnate Lam Kok is feared dead in a helicopter crash in southern France, hours after he had agreed the purchase of a local chateau.

LUGON-ET-L'ILE-DU-CARNAY, FRANCE (DECEMBER 20, 2013) (M6) - A Chinese hotel magnate and a French wine entrepreneur were feared dead with two others on Saturday (December 21) after their helicopter crashed hours after they had agreed the sale of a luxury Bordeaux chateau, police said.

Lam Kok, owner of Hong Kong-based hotel group Brilliant, bought the 60-hectare (148-acre)Chateau de La Riviere on Friday from former owner James Gregoire, who then took Kok, his 12-year-old son and a Chinese interpreter on a helicopter tour of the property.

A rescue operation was underway on Friday evening with the body of a child, believed to be Kok's son, retrieved at around 2300 local time (2200GMT), as the head of the local police branch told M6 television.

"At around 11 o'clock we found a body with the sonar which had located the helicopter, the remains of the helicopter because the helicopter has been pretty much destroyed, and inside it there was a body which on the face of it belonged to the child," Colonel Ghislain Rety said.

Local emergency services said the helicopter crashed in the local river Dordogne by the town ofLugon-et-l'ile-du-Carnay.

Consular officials from the Chinese embassy in Paris visited the scene with police on Saturday.

Employees from the Chateau said that sunny weather had prompted Gregoire -- a helicopter pilot -- to suggest the trip after an official handover ceremony.

"A trip that normally lasts a quarter of an hour ended in tragedy," General Manager Xavier Buffosaid.

Chinese entrepreneurs have snapped up several dozen French chateaux, most of them in Bordeaux. The new owners have either shipped the output back to China to satisfy a growing local taste for wine, or turned them into tourist resorts.