TransAsia Flight GE 235 crashed into the Keelung River in Taipei after taking off from the nearby Taipai Songshan airport. The plane was carrying 53 passengers and 5 crew. At least 20 are feared dead.
A dramatic video caught by a dashcam shows the plane falling sideways, clipping part of the Nanyang Bridge in New Taipei City and striking a taxi. The driver has been reported as in stable condition.
“The driver has been sent to a local hospital. He has head injury and concussion, but all of his vital signs are stable,” a representative from the Crown Taxi company told the Guardian.
This is the second crash in eight months for TransAsia, a regional carrier based in Taipei. Last summer, a plane crashed not far from Magong Airport on Taiwan’s Penghu Island, killing 48. Like Wednesday’s Flight GE 235, that plane was also a French-Italian-built ATR 72 turboprop. Toulouse, France-based ATR said it would assist in the investigation into GE 235’s crash.
— reported.ly (@reportedly) February 4, 2015
According to the Straits Times, 23 people have been confirmed dead, 20 are missing, and 15 injured. Eyewitnesses have reportedly said they saw passengers thrown from the plane as it crashed.
TransAsia CEO Chen Hsin-te appeared on television Wednesday afternoon to apologize for the incident. About 1,000 first responders, forensic experts, and soldiers are taking part in the rescue effort, according to reports.
The plane came down only minutes after it took off.
“Actually this aircraft in the accident was the newest model,” Peter Chen, a TransAsia director, said at a news conference. “It hadn’t been used for even a year.”
Just over half of the flight’s passengers – 31 – were from China.
The Associated Press reported that the ATR 72-600 model “has a generally good reputation for safety and reliability.”
But fire officials warned that the death toll from TransAsia’s Flight GE 235 may rise.
“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu Jun-hong of the Taipei Fire department told reporters. “Those in the front of the plane are likely to have lost their lives.”