- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2008

SEOUL | A helicopter carrying Unification Church founder the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and 15 others, including his wife and at least three grandchildren, crash landed and burst into flames on a mountain northeast of Seoul on Saturday.

The Rev. Moon, 88; his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon; and the others managed to flee the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter before it exploded into a giant fireball about 35 miles northeast of Seoul, according to news reports from the site.

The Rev. Moon founded The Washington Times in 1982.

Bad weather contributed to an emergency landing just over a mile from the chopper’s destination, a heliport atop Cheong Shim Hospital, which is owned by the Unification Church.

The hospital is part of a huge resort used for church workshops, the original destination of the passengers, who were taken to the hospital instead.

“Everyone is OK except for one lady, whose back was injured,” said one church member, who was attending a workshop at the resort when the crash landing occurred.

Church spokesman Dr. Chang Shik Yang said two passengers suffered minor injuries. Jiseon Lim, 30, was being treated for bruised vertebrae, and Kibyeong Youn for light abrasions.

Both are expected to make a full recovery, Dr. Yang said.

YTN television news showed one person being carried away from the smoldering wreckage on a stretcher.

In an official statement from the Unification Church, Dr. Yang said the helicopter was on its way from Seoul to the Cheon Jeong Goong Museum, located in Seorakmyeon, Gapyeonggun.

The helicopter left the Jamsil heliport at 4:40 p.m. and ran into sudden inclement weather about 20 minutes later and made an emergency landing on a nearby hill.

At the time of the crash, heavy rainfall and fog blanketed the area. A dense forest canopy at the crash site helped cushion the fall, police and fire officials told local news media.

The crew and the other passengers, including the Rev. Moon and his wife, were treated and were resting and recuperating, Dr. Yang said.

Church members believe the Rev. Moon is the messiah sent to finish the uncompleted mission of Jesus Christ.

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