Earlier today TransAsia flight GE235 departed from Songshan Airport en route to the Kinmen Islands, plummeting from the skies into Taipei’s Keelung River in Taiwan.
Video taken from drivers show the turboprop ATR 72-600 style plane, which is a relatively new model to the airline, make an extreme left turn as it passes over the city’s Nanhu Bridge, clipping a taxi carrying two people in its descent.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) February 4, 2015
The driver of the taxi is still in a local hospital being treated with head injuries, but according to the taxi company he is in stable condition. According to TransAsia Airways the aircraft held 58 people — 53 passengers and 5 crew members. Officials in Taipei have established a disaster response center as rescue efforts are made to extract passengers still inside the plane which lay in the river.
According to Taipei Fire Department Assistant Director Wu Jun-Hong:
We’re asking the public works department for heavy cranes to be deployed, in the hopes that the body of the plane can be lifted up. At the moment, we think a lot of the trapped people are in the head of the plane.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 4, 2015
As of yet, there are 26 reported dead, 15 injured, and 17 still missing. Rescue attempts are still ongoing. The military offered numerous vehicles and at least 165 members of personnel on standby to assist the rescue efforts as need be.
In July of 2014, another TransAsia flight, Flight 222, crashed off the Taiwanese coast in Penghu, killing 48 people following a second landing attempt in typhoon conditions.
Having two crashes involving fatalities within a six month period does not shine a positive light on the aviation industry in Taiwan, which has strived to improve its safety record since a series of high-profile incidents in the 1990s and 2000s.
Teams have obtained the black boxes from the wreckage. Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council’s Executive Director Ang Xingzhong told news agencies that the voice and flight data recorders were located in the tail of the aircraft.
Chen Xinde, TransAsia CEO, offered a “deep apology to the victims and our crew” during a news conference, stating that the airline’s planes had been “under thorough scrutiny” for the last few months.
Both our planes and our flight safety system are following strict regulations, so we want to know what caused the new plane model to crash, but I don’t don’t want to speculate.
H/T The Verge