Taiwan plane crash leaves 48 dead, 10 injured

The turboprop craft tried to land in rain

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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.


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