More than 40 feared dead after air crash at Taiwan airport

Internal flight crashes while trying to land hours after typhoon Matmo battered the region

Rescue workers work next to the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu. Photograph:  Wong Yao-wen/AP Photo

Rescue workers work next to the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu. Photograph: Wong Yao-wen/AP Photo

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 20:08

Forty-seven passengers are feared dead and 11 are injured after their aircraft crashed while trying to land at a Taiwanese airport yesterday, hours after typhoon Matmo battered the region.

The transport minister said TransAsia Airways flight GE222 had been attempting an emergency landing, which the airline blamed on bad weather. The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said conditions on Penghu, an island between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, had been suitable for incoming flights.

Pictures posted by local media showed the wreckage of a plane amid a badly damaged building. The flight had taken off from Kaohsiung, in the south of Taiwan, bound for Penghu’s Magong airport.

Arrived safely

Jean Shen, director general of the CAA, said Magong air traffic controllers had lost contact with the flight during its go-round, when it was about 300 feet above the ground. She added that two flights had arrived safely just before GE222.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported that the pilot had been asked to wait until 7.06pm before being allowed to make his first attempt at landing. It is not clear what caused the delay or why his initial attempt failed. The twin-engine turboprop ATR-72 was due to take off at 4pm and arrive at Magong at 4.35pm, but did not leave Kaohsiung until 5.45pm, according to CNA. It was a further hour and 20 minutes before it made its initial landing attempt.

The Aviation Safety Council has called an emergency meeting to look into the cause of the accident. Its head, Wang Hsing-chung, told CNA it was unclear whether bad weather or human error was to blame.

TransAsia Airways said it was sparing no effort to help passengers and their families. It had also begun assisting the CAA and ASC investigation. –(Guardian service)