Taipei: At least 25 people were killed when a Taiwan TransAsia Airways plane plunged into the Keelung river in Taipei Wednesday morning barely 10 minutes after takeoff.
A total of 15 survivors have been taken to nearby hospitals in Taipei and New Taipei cities, Xinhua news agency reported citing disaster relief authorities. The plane’s two black boxes have been recovered and should be deciphered by Wednesday night.
Flight GE235 was headed for Kiamen 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.
Xiamen police have fastracked travel documents for families of the mainland tourists on board so they can leave for Taiwan as early as possible. Some are expected in Taiwan.
Xiamen has set up an emergency team and seven city officials will travel to Taiwan as soon as possible to support the families.
Huang Wensheng, a Xiamen resident whose wife and son were on board was waiting for the travel permit at the exit-entry administration of Xiamen Public Security Bureau on Wednesday afternoon.
“I have not been able to get in touch with them,” he said.
The Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has sent a team to Taiwan to handle related affairs.
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.