TransAsia Airways crashes in Taiwan; 47 feared dead

At least 47 people were feared dead after a TransAsia Airways plane crashed Wednesday while trying to make an emergency landing in stormy weather in the Penghu Islands off the coast of Taiwan.

Taiwan had been suffering strong winds and torrential rains Wednesday from Typhoon Matmo.

Taiwan Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih, who said 47 people were feared dead, was quoted by the government's Central News Agency as saying another 11 people were injured after the ATR-72 aircraft crashed outside the airport in Xixi village while attempting a second landing.

Later, he said that 46 "were missing" and that crews at the crash site had found around a dozen bodies, according to the agency.

Yeh said flight carried 58 passengers and crewmembers. The CNA, quoting a local fire brigade chief, had initially reported the death toll at 51.

Flight GE222 was flying from Kaohsiung, a major city on the southwest coast of Taiwan's main island, to Magong, one of two airports on Penghu Island, which is located halfway between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait.

The Taiwan News reports that the aircraft took off more than 90 minutes late because of the poor weather, and the pilot reportedly asked to wait until 7:06 p.m. before being allowed to land.

The plane slammed into the ground in the village, setting fire to at least two houses. Photos in the local media from the crash site showed a handful of firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness.

Taiwanese media identified the pilot as 60-year-old Lee Yi-liang and his co-pilot as Chiang Kuan-hsing, 39, and said each had flown over 20,000 hours, according toTaiwan News.

Although the center of Typhoon Matmo had already swept through the islands, heavy rain and strong winds from the system continued to batter the area.

A radar image from the moment of the plane crash showed heavy rain over the area, AccuWeather reports.

CNN International meteorologist Brandon Miller reported that the storm brought 10 inches of rain in the area and winds up to 47 mph.

Airports in the adjacent mainland Chinese province of Fujian had canceled flights and trains ahead of Matmo's arrival.

Calum MacLeod reported from Beijing. Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.


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