Dash cam video captured the twin-engine turboprop plane careening over an elevated bridge before crashing into a river.
Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration said the twin-engine turboprop regional plane was carrying 58 people at the time, 53 passengers and five crew members. The aviation agency said Wednesday that 23 of the 58 passengers were confirmed dead in the crash and 15 were hospitalized for injuries, leaving 20 others missing. The pilot was identified as Liao Jianzong,42, who had nearly 5,000 hours of flight experience, and his co-pilot, Liuzi Zhong, 45, who had almost 7,000 hours.It is not clear if they are among the victims in the crash.
Wu Jun-Hong, a Taipei fire official, told the AP that those people may be stuck in the fuselage.
“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu said. “Those in the front of the plane are likely to have lost their lives.”
The AP also reported that 31 of the passengers on the plane were from mainland China, according to Taiwan’s tourist bureau.
The plane was an ATR-72 turboprop plane that had just taken off from Taiwan’s Songshan airport. The Kinmen Islands, off the coast of Xiamen, southeast China, was the destination, the BBC said.
Flight controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 10:55 a.m. local time (9.55 p.m. Wednesday ET).
The final communication from the pilots to air traffic control was “mayday, mayday, engine flame out”, according to the BBC, citing a recording played on local media.
TransAsia’s director, Peter Chen, said that contact had been lost with the plane four minutes after takeoff. He added that weather conditions were considered suitable for flying, and the cause of the accident was not yet known, the AP reported.
Speaking at a news conference, Chen said, “Actually this aircraft in the accident was the newest model. It hadn’t been used for even a year.”