Taipei, Feb 4:
At least 23 people were killed after a Taiwan TransAsia Airways plane plunged into the Keelung river in Taipei Wednesday morning, 10 minutes after takeoff.
Survivors were taken to nearby hospitals in Taipei and New Taipei, Xinhua reported citing disaster relief authorities. The plane’s two black boxes were recovered and were expected to be deciphered by Wednesday night.
Flight GE235 was headed for Kinmen from Taipei with 53 passengers on board, including 31 from the Chinese mainland, and five crew. Three of the mainland passengers are known to be children.
The plane was been in service since April 2014 and was subject to a routine safety check this month, according to Taipei authorities.
The aircraft plunged into the river at 10.55 a.m. after its wing clipped a taxi with a man and a woman inside on an elevated motorway.
The mainland passengers were on trips organised by two travel agencies from Xiamen city in the southeast mainland province of Fujian, the Taiwan tourism authority confirmed.
The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office and the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) launched a joint emergency response operation and are being kept up to date by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). They extended condolences to families of the victims and urged those on the ground to do as much as they could.
In a message sent to the SEF, the ARATS said the relatives of the Chinese mainland passengers on board the plane were anxious for their whereabouts.
The ARATS hoped that the SEF could assist in gaining information about passengers from the mainland and urged parties concerned to spare no efforts in searching for passengers who were still missing and treating those injured.
On July 23, 2014, TransAsia Airways flight GE222, also an ATR-72 aircraft, crashed on Taiwan’s Penghu island, killing 48 people.
TransAsia Airways, founded in 1951, is Taiwan’s first private airline, mainly focusing on short overseas flights. IANS