Monday, 9 February 2015

Religious rites to honour dead in Taiwan plane crash; three bodies repatriated to China

Bereaved families of 40 people killed in last week’s TransAsia Airways plane crash in Taiwan will hold a religious ceremony tonight to honour the dead as the bodies of three victims were repatriated to mainland China.

The move came as the search continued at the scene of Wednesday's crash, along the Keelung River, outside Taipei, for three people on Flight GE235 who are still missing.

Officials said the remains of the three Chinese victims, accompanied by relatives, departed for Fujian province`s Xiamen Taiwan`s Taoyuan Airport. These bodies were the first to be repatriated, Xinhua reported.

TransAsia Airways flight GE235, en route to Kinmen, a small archipelago of several islands, from Taipei with 53 passengers and five crew on board, crashed in the Keelung river after its wing clipped a taxi on an elevated freeway, 10 minutes after takeoff.

At least 40 people were killed, 15 survived and three are still missing. Among the 53 passengers, 31 were Chinese tourists and 22 were Taiwanese.

“They were keen to take the remains [of their loved ones] back home for their own memorial and funeral services, so we helped to arrange for them to board a plane bound for Xiamen at about 8.40am this morning," a bureau official said.

The families of the other 26 mainland victims that have been found had yet to decide if their relatives would be cremated in Taiwan, said TransAsia Airways, which added that it would offer transportation assistance if needed.

Buddhist masters from Fo Guang Shan Monastery, in Kaohsiung, will recite sutras during the ritual at 9pm in Taipei, which according to Chinese custom allows the deceased to have a last reunion with their families.

An official funeral for friends, relatives and members of the public to mourn the dead would held at Taipei’s Second Funeral Parlour tomorrow at 3pm, TransAsia Airways said.

The airline’s officials said it would negotiate with the families of the dead and injured about the level of compensation on Wednesday.

Fifteen people, including three mainland tourists and a female flight attendant, were rescued when Flight GE235, with 58 people on board, clipped a bridge and crashed into the muddy Keelung River, in Taipei, soon after taking off from Taipei Songshan Airport on Wednesday.

“Compensation payments for both the local and the mainland passengers will be the same,” said Liu Chung-chi, a TransAsia spokesman, adding that such an issue would discussed only after all the funeral services were completed.

The level of compensation is expected to be no less than the NT$14.9 million (HK$3.65 million) paid to each of the families of 48 people killed in July when another TransAsia plane crashed in Taiwan’s tourist resort island of Penghu.

Meanwhile, the family of pilot Liao Chien-tsung – hailed a hero for managing to avoid highly populated areas before the crash when the aircraft developed engine problems – have held his funeral.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, who paid tribute to Liao for helping to save the lives of at least 200,000 Taipei residents, also attended the ceremony.

However, initial findings of Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council show that after one of the two engines of Fight GE235 developed a problem, instead of fixing the problem, the second engine of the turboprop aircraft was shut down.

The aircraft had no engine power for 72 seconds.

Monday 9 February 2015

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10 killed in Vietnam road accident

A severe accident between two buses occurred on early Monday morning in a south central Vietnamese province, killing 10 passengers – including the drivers.

At 1:45 am today, February 9, a sleeper bus with number plate 51B-14122 crashed head-on into another, with number plate 86B-00284, that was traveling in the opposite lane on National Highway 1 in Ham Minh Commune, Ham Thuan Nam District in Binh Thuan Province.

The sleeper bus was traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to the central province of Nghe An, while the other was going from the south central city of Phan Thiet to the southern city, commune authorities said.

The impact threw bus 86B-00284 into a house on the roadside, collapsing a wall of the house, killing nine passengers on the spot. Nobody in the house was hurt.

Meanwhile, the driver of the sleeper bus was thrown from the vehicle and killed immediately.

The right front wheel of bus 51B-14122 exploded in the collision.

According to Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, the driver of bus 51B-14122 had encroached on the lane of the other bus and crashed into it.

After receiving reports about the accidents, police and rescuers rushed to the scene to handle the accident.

Many ambulances were called to the scene to take the victims to Ham Thuan Nam District Hospital, while traffic police tried to remove the traffic jam caused by the crash.

The fronts of both buses were broken into pieces, exposing the interiors, while bloodstains covered parts of the vehicles and the ground. The passengers who survived the deadly accident were taken to the district police office to rest while waiting for other buses to continue their trips.

Chairman of the Binh Thuan People’s Committee Le Tien Phuong has called on the injured victims at the hospital.

The provincial authorities have given money as initial support to the families of both the dead and injured victims.

Police have examined the scene of the accident and are investigating the cause.

Monday 9 February 2015

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Number of recovered AirAsia bodies rises to 100

More than one month after AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed with 162 people on board, the number of bodies recovered from the Java Sea has reached 100.

Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told Metro TV on Saturday, “There were 101 bodies recovered, but one of them was not an AirAsia victim based on identification by DVI [Disaster Victim Identification] in Surabaya.”

He explained that out of the 93 bodies sent to Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, one set of bones -- recovered by fishermen -- was later identified by the DVI team as belonging to a monkey.

Soelistyo explained that the seven victims found in the last two days -- including one retrieved from the plane’s damaged cockpit section -- were on a warship heading for Pangkalan Bun, the nearest town to the crash site.

Earlier in the day, he had announced that divers discovered the bodies of the two pilots from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 strapped to their seats.

While one was lifted out of the Karimata strait Friday afternoon, Soelistyo expressed hope that weather conditions would permit divers to recover the remaining pilot.

He said the agency was waiting for DVI to identify whether the recovered body belonged to the flight’s captain Iriyanto -- who like many Indonesians used only one name -- or French co-pilot Remy Plesel.

Soelistyo also announced that search operations would be extended as dozens of bodies had been recovered during the week.

Late last month, the agency had said the search for victims might be called off if more were not found.

Indonesia’s military had earlier ceased search operations, withdrawing its warships after a slowdown in discoveries.

Investigators are analyzing data from the aircraft's two "black box" flight recorders to determine why it crashed Dec. 28 off Borneo as it flew from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board. Terrorism has been ruled unlikely.

The last contact with air traffic controllers was when the pilot asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid storm clouds.

The flight was denied immediate permission due to heavy air traffic in the area and four minutes later the plane disappeared.

It reportedly disappeared from radar immediately after climbing at a rate outside the Airbus A320-200’s safety parameters.

Monday 9 February 2015

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