TAIPEI—Rescue workers in Taiwan have used a crane to lift part of the wreckage of a TransAsia passenger plane that crashed outside of Taipei, killing at least 25 people and leaving nearly 20 others missing in shallow water.
Rescuers in boats surrounded the partially submerged, upside-down plane and pulled at least 15 of the passengers to safety, including a young child.
Dramatic video footage captured the plane’s rapid descent and crash landing into the shallow Keelung River, narrowly missing plowing into several nearby high-rise apartment building. The taxi driver who recorded the crash was mildly injured.
The ATR-72 prop passenger jet was on its way to a domestic airport in the outlying Kinmen islands. According to officials, at least 31 of the passengers were tourists from mainland China.
“Mayday, mayday, engine flameout” were the last words uttered before the crash, according to an air traffic controller recording posted online.
Clean safety record
TransAsia Chief Executive Officer Peter Chen told reporters he did not know why the plane went down.
He said the plane was less than a year old and it had undergone scheduled maintenance on January 26. The 63-year-old airline had a clean safety record before last July but it is now likely to face tougher public scrutiny, along with the European aircraft manufacturer.
Chen said the airline apologizes deeply and that it will do its utmost to help the injured and families of the victims, doing all it can to mobilize people to do work in the crash aftermath.
An official with the Civil Aeronautics Administration said the flight lost contact with air control at central Taipei’s Sungshan airport two minutes after takeoff.
The aviation administration will begin a formal investigation into the crash.
It is the second ATR-72 to crash in Taiwan in as many years. Last July, one of the French-made twin-engine turboprops crashed during poor weather near the airport on the island of Penghu, killing 48 people.