At least 23 killed after TransAsia plane crashes into river in Taiwan

Hong Kong – A Taiwanese flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after take off from Taipei on Wednesday, killing more than 20 people. The passenger plane crashed into a river in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, shortly after takeoff on Wednesday morning, officials said. Rescue operations were underway to pull survivors from the water. 53 passengers and five crew members were aboard the plane.

The plane, a TransAsia Airways twin turboprop flying as Flight 235, had just left Taipei Songshan Airport bound for nearby Kinmen, an island just off the mainland Chinese province of Fujian, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said. Fifty-three passengers and five crew members were aboard, the agency said.

Dramatic images taken from car dashboard cameras and posted online showed the plane flying low over an elevated highway, its left wing clipping the road before it crashed into the river. The plane struck a taxi, injuring two people inside, the Taipei government said.

The plane’s wing also hit a taxi, the driver of which was injured, on the freeway just before it crashed into the river, Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported.

In a statement issued shortly after 5 p.m. local time by TransAsia, it said three people died at the scene and a further 10 in hospital. A number other passengers were taken to local hospitals and the airline set up an emergency response centre.

TransAsia said the passenger list had been handed over to authorities and attempts were being made to confirm the identity with relevant families. TransAsia said the aircraft was part of the company’s newest fleet and had undergone regular maintenance within the last month.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said it had sent 165 people and eight boats to the riverside rescue scene, joining fire department rescue crews. Some of the surviving passengers were forced to scramble to safety from the submerged wreckage.

Wu Jun-Hong, a Taipei Fire Department official who was coordinating the rescue, said the victims were among 27 people pulled from the plane. The other people who remained unaccounted for either were still in the fuselage or had been pulled downriver, he said.

“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu told reporters at the scene. “Those in the front of the plane are likely to have lost their lives.”

This is the second incident for TransAsia Airways in the past year. The airline was involved in a fatal crash in July, 2014, when Flight 222 attempted to avoid typhoon conditions and crashed on the island of Penghu. From the 54 people aboard the flight, 48 died in the crash. An initial report in to the crash was released in December, with the final report expected in October this year.

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Tribune International