BORDEAUX- Four people were feared dead Saturday including a Chinese billionaire and his 12-year-old son after the helicopter in which he was overflying his newly purchased French vineyard crashed into a river.
Lam Kok, the 46-year-old head of the Hong Kong-based Brilliant group, had just bought a major Bordeaux vineyard in a sale accompanied by great fanfare and was surveying his new property in a helicopter piloted by the former owner when the accident happened Friday.
Emergency workers pulled a still-unidentified body from inside the helicopter after finding the wreckage in the Dordogne river, said local officials.
A large search operation was called off just before midnight with the helicopter's other three occupants still missing. Officials said the search would resume Saturday morning.
The helicopter was flown by James Gregoire, the former owner of the Chateau de la Riviere vineyard, and was carrying the Chinese billionaire, his son and an interpreter.
Lam Kok's wife pulled out of the aerial tour at the last minute, saying she was "scared of helicopters", said an AFP photographer at the event. Gregoire meanwhile patiently carried out his pre-flight procedures, a check-list resting on his knees, the photographer said.
The accident happened at the end of a festive day marking Thursday's sale of the Chateau de la Riviere, one of the region's oldest estates.
After a press conference, an introduction to the staff and dinner, the former owner was planning to take his buyer on a short tour of the 65-hectare (160-acre) vineyards and surrounding grounds.
When they did not return after 20 minutes, employees at the vineyard contacted emergency services.