A TransAsia Airways flight in Taiwan carrying 53 passengers and 5 crew members nearly hit an apartment building and it clipped a highway and taxi cab, then crashed into the shallow Keelung River, killing at least 31 people.
TransAsia GE 235, a domestic flight from Taipei to Kinmen, a small group of islands near mainland China, crashed at 10:56am local time, only about 3 minutes after it took off. Multiple dash-cam videos were posted online that showed the plane turning vertical over a highway and clipping a taxi cab and a bridge with its left wing.
Rescuers have been searching through the night to find the remaining missing people from the TransAsia plane crash. Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said early Thursday that 31 people are dead and 15 people are injured but alive, including one toddler. 12 people are still missing. Those sitting in the front of the plane most likely all perished.
More than half of the passengers- 31 to be exact- were Chinese tourists.
The driver of the clipped taxi cab was taken to a local hospital with a head injury and concussion, but all of his vital signs are stable, according to Mr. Yang, an assistant to the Crown Taxi Company’s general manager. He told The Guardian that they will discuss compensation with TransAsia Airways later.
The plane crashed because of an engine flameout (although it is uncertain as to why it happened to such a new aircraft), which occurs when the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted or there is a faulty combustion which results in an engine failure. The last communication from one of the aircraft’s pilots was “Mayday Mayday engine flameout,” according to an air traffic control recording on liveatc.net. Weather was good and the pilot and co-pilot were both very experienced with thousands of flying hours.
While there were tragic deaths in the crash, the plane design being an ATR 72 Turboprop model may have helped so many survive. According to WSJ, the Turboprop model is designed to fly at slower speeds than most jets, float when ditched at sea, and evenly distribute shock.
Rescuers used a crane to lift the aircraft’s fuselage from the river. The plane’s body was broken into two pieces, with the cockpit more severely damaged than the cabin. Rescue workers also used rubber dinghies to carry the survivors and bodies to the shore.
The crash adds to fear about Asian flight safety since there has been quite a few accidents in 2014, with the most recent one being the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, which went down in the Java Sea on December 28th, killing all 162 people on board.
Wednesday’s crash is the second by a TransAsia flight within the past 6 months. In July 2014, TransAsia flight ATR-72 crashed while attempting to land in the Penghu Islands soon after a typhoon, killing 48 people and injuring 10. The official cause of the crash is still unknown.