TAIPEI, Taiwan — Forty-eight people were killed and 10 were injured after a TransAsia Airways Corp. passenger plane crashed as it prepared to land Wednesday on Taiwan’s outlying Penghu Islands, the company said.
Flight GE222, a twin-engine ATR-72 turboprop, was making a second approach to Magong Airport when it went down amid heavy rain about 7:20 p.m. local time.
The plane carried 54 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew on the flight from southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung International Airport, said Alison Kao, spokeswoman for the Taipei-based airline. Two of those on board were French nationals, she said.
TransAsia, which was founded in 1951 as Taiwan’s first private civilian airline, flies eight ATR-72 aircraft, mostly for domestic and short-haul international flights. In December 2002, a TransAsia ATR crashed into the sea, killing the two pilots, according to AviationSafetyNetwork, an accident-information website.
After Flight GE222 missed its initial approach, the pilot performed a so-called go-around maneuver. With a missed approach, pilots usually follow a set of procedures, working off a checklist to ensure that the plane clears the runway and avoids other aircraft and ground obstacles before re-entering the airport traffic pattern.
Flight GE222 had been delayed, departing about 5:35 p.m. Wednesday, according to the airline’s website. It was scheduled to depart at 4 p.m. for the 35-minute trip northwest to Penghu, according to the airline’s website.
Television images from the crash site showed firefighters hosing down piles of twisted metal in the rain near the airport, as rescuers carried people away in stretchers. Nearby homes were damaged, Sanlih Television reported.
The 10 injured passengers were taken to two hospitals on the island, TransAsia said in an e-mailed statement. The injured and families of the deceased will be offered $6,674 as preliminary compensation as well as a further $26,696 for funeral expenses.
President Ma Ying-jeou was saddened by the crash, which was Taiwan’s most serious aviation safety incident in recent years, according to a statement from his office late Wednesday. He called for support for victims’ families and a comprehensive investigation.
Offices and schools across Taiwan were closed Wednesday for Typhoon Matmo, which unloaded heavy rains and knocked out power to about 500,000 homes. Penghu is situated in the Taiwan Strait, off the western coast of Taiwan’s main island.
The pilot of Flight GE222 had been flying for 25 years and had almost 30,000 flight hours, while the co-pilot had been flying about 2 1/2 years with approximately 3,000 hours, Ms. Kao said. Both are Taiwanese, she said. The ATR-72 was 13 years old, she said.
A flight recorder has been found, Gen. Lee Wan-lee, the Civil Aeronautics Administration deputy director, said. The turboprop was built by Avions de Transport Regional, a joint venture between Airbus Group NV and Finmeccanica SpA.