News Asia-Pacific

Sunday 22 October 2017

Shocking moment plane hits bridge in Tapei killing at least 25 people

Tom Philips

At least 25 people have died in Asia’s latest air catastrophe after a TransAsia plane carrying 58 people crashed into a river in Taiwan just minutes after takeoff.

TransAsia Flight GE235, an ATR 72-600 turboprop, took off from Taipei, the capital, at around 10.53am and was on its way to the island of Kinmen when the incident happened.

Rescuers carry out rescue operations after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. One person was killed but another 10 showed
Rescuers carry out rescue operations after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. One person was killed but another 10 showed "no sign of life" after the TransAsia plane carrying 58 passengers and crew crashed into a river in downtown Taipei shortly after take-off, Taiwan's fire department said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers carry out a rescue operation after a TransAsia Airways plane crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. At least two people were killed when a Taiwanese TransAsia plane carrying 58 people crashed landed in a Taipei river on Wednesday, the Taiwan government said. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. At least two people were killed when a Taiwanese TransAsia plane carrying 58 people crashed landed in a Taipei river on Wednesday, the Taiwan government said. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. At least two people were killed when a Taiwanese TransAsia plane carrying 58 people crashed landed in a Taipei river on Wednesday, the Taiwan government said. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. At least two people were killed when a Taiwanese TransAsia plane carrying 58 people crashed landed in a Taipei river on Wednesday, the Taiwan government said. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
In this image made from Associated Press Television video, a commercial plane lies in river after crashing in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Taiwanese commercial flight with 53 passengers aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island's capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo)
Emergency personnel work on top of a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Taiwanese commercial flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island's capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo)
Emergency personnel try to extract passengers from a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Taiwanese commercial flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island's capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Emergency personnel work after a commercial plane crashed into a river in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Taiwanese commercial flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island's capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Emergency personnel carry the body of a passenger extracted from a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Emergency personnel try to extract passengers from a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Stretchers wait on the shoreline of the Keelung River as emergency personnel try to extract passengers from a Taiwanese commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Emergency personnel carry the body of a passenger extracted from a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Taiwanese commercial flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island's capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Rescuers and soldiers remove air plane parts after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Reuters/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers drag airplane parts with boats after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Reuters/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers and soldiers remove airplane parts after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Reuters/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers carry out a rescue operation after a TransAsia Airways plane crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City. Reuters/Stringer
Policemen control traffic next to the wreckage of a TransAsia Airways plane which hit a motorway before crash landing in a river, in New Taipei City. Reuters/Stringer

Initial reports suggested the aircraft hit part of a motorway overpass and then plummeted into a section of the Keelung river around 3 miles from the airport. There were 53 passengers, including two children, and five crew on the plane. At least 25 people were reported to have been killed.

A witness, named only as Mr Wu, told local television he had watched in horror from his 25th floor office as the plane came down.

“The whole thing was open in 5 to 10 seconds,” he told Taiwan’s CTITV. “I saw the flight hit the viaduct and fall into the river. I saw a big splash.”

A passing driver reportedly captured the flight’s final moments with a camera placed on their dashboard.

The images appeared to show Flight GE235 pitching violently to its left before crashing into the river, sending a plume of debris into the air.

Another video broadcast on Taiwanese television appeared to show the plane striking a bridge before crashing.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the veracity of either video.

A photograph posted on social media showed the crumpled bonnet of a Volkswagen taxi that the plane had also reportedly clipped as it came down.

A spokesman for Crown Taxis, the company, said its driver had been taken to Zhong Xiao hospital in Taipei where he was under observation.

“He was hit on the head,” said Mr Yang, a company representative.

Local television carried live images of the rescue effort showing workers in yellow and orange life vests attempting to extract victims from the plane's semi-submerged fuselage.

A helicopter hovered overhead as red dinghies were used to carry victims to shore.

Ke Wenzhe, the mayor of Taipei, told a press conference that 28 people had been pulled from the plane’s wreckage, of whom 9 died before reaching the hospital. The extent of the survivors’ injuries was not immediately clear. Thirty passengers were missing.

hirty-one of those on the plane were tourists from Mainland China, according to Chinese media reports.

Weng Kaikai, who knew one Chinese passenger, took to Facebook to celebrate after learning his friend had survived from a television report. “My friend is alive,” he wrote, according to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily. “I almost burst into tears."

The causes of the disaster were not immediately clear but FlightRadar24.com, a specialist website, said the plane had attempted to turn back before its crash and had been in the air for less than three minutes.

Today’s crash is TransAsia’s second in a year. Last July, 48 people died and 10 were injured when TransAsia Flight GE222 crashed during a rainstorm after its pilots were unable to locate the runway.

That incident was one of four major disasters to strike Asian carriers in 2014.

Malaysia Airlines lost two planes, MH370 and MH17, carrying a total of 537 people.

In December an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people crashed into the Java Sea while flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore. So far the bodies of only 90 of those people have been found.

Additional reporting Ailin Tang

Telegraph.co.uk

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