Thursday, 24 July 2014

47 killed after TransAsia plane crashes in typhoon-hit Taiwan - Update

A TRANSASIA Airways plane has crashed during an attempted emergency landing - killing 47 of the 58 people aboard.

Flight GE222 has crashed in the Penghu Islands, off the coast of Taiwan, after deteriorating weather conditions from Typhoon Matmo forced the jet to attempt an emergency landing.

The small TransAsia flight set-off from south Taiwan and was scheduled to land in Magong, the biggest city on China's Penghu Islands. There were 54 passengers onboard the doomed flight - four of them children - and four crew members. It was scheduled to be in the air for a total of 35 minutes.

Reports from the area suggest that the pilot's first attempt at an emergency landing failed - and that a loss of contact with air traffic control made the second attempt fatal.

The plane was found at Penghu island's Xixi village in flames, local media reported, with initial news reports claiming that the jet had crashed through a residential building during its fatal landing

The Taiwan News reports that the aircraft took off more than 90 minutes late because of the poor weather, and the pilot reportedly asked to wait until 7:06 p.m. before being allowed to land.

The plane slammed into the ground in the village, setting fire to at least two houses. Photos in the local media from the crash site showed a handful of firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness.

Taiwan's Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih put the figure at 47 missing, feared dead. So far only 10 bodies have been removed from the rubble.

"It was thunderstorm conditions during the crash," said Hsi Wen-guang, a spokesman for the Penghu County Government Fire Bureau.

"From the crash site we sent 11 people to hospital with injuries. A few empty apartment buildings adjacent to the runway caught fire, but no one was inside at the time and the fire was extinguished."

According to an official at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, air traffic control reported that the inclement weather at the time of the crash did not exceed international regulations for landing.

Visibility was 1,600 meters and the cloud cover was as low as 600 meters, added the official, who declined to be identified.

Local media are broadcasting images from the scene - including a picture of a torn fuselage, lit only by the torches of the rescue workers.

Civil aviation director Jean Shen said: "It's chaotic"

Flight GE222 was initially delayed on the runway by the adverse weather from Typhoon Matmo, which has already injured nine people with its fierce winds and downpours.

Magong, where the aircraft crashed, is the biggest city on the Penghu Islands, which lies halfway between Taiwan and mainland China.

Typhoon Matmo slammed into Taiwan on Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, shutting financial markets and schools. It passed the island and headed into China, downgraded from typhoon to tropical storm.

TransAsia Airways is a Taiwan-based airline with a fleet of around 23 Airbus and ATR aircraft, operating chiefly short-haul flights on domestic routes as well as to mainland China, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia, among its Asian destinations.

Thursday 24 July 2014


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