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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Taiwan pilot has fatal heart attack
China Airlines, Taipei
China Airlines: Dogged by safety concerns
A Taiwanese airliner carrying 273 passengers and crew had to turn back to Taipei after the pilot suffered a fatal heart attack.

Captain Gueorgui Gueorguiev, 45, lost consciousness about 30 minutes after the China Airlines A300 took off for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on Monday morning.
Hong Kong crash
A China Airlines plane crashed in Hong Kong last year

His co-pilot Lin Hsin, 27, took control and made an emergency turn around.

None of the 259 passengers was injured, the airline's spokesman Scott Shih said.

Reports said Mr Gueorguiev was pronounced dead a few minutes after arriving at Min Sheng hospital near Taipei international airport. Doctors said he had suffered a heart attack.

Medical test

Mr Shih said the pilot, a Bulgarian, had passed the mandatory health examination the airline gives to pilots every six months. His last health check was in November.

China Airlines, Taiwan's flag carrier, has been dogged by safety concerns following a spate of accidents.

Two years ago, one of its Airbus A300s crashed at the island's main airport, killing 203 people.

And last August, three people were killed when a China Airlines MD-11 jet flipped upside down and burst into flames at Hong Kong's airport as the pilot attempted to land during a tropical storm.

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See also:

23 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
Plane crashes in typhoon
17 Feb 98 | Asia-Pacific
Over 200 die in Taiwanese plane crash
24 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
Explosion blamed for plane fire
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