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TransAsia plane crash: 31 confirmed dead as rescue teams continue search for 12 missing people


Taiwanese rescue teams are continuing to search for the 12 people who remain unaccounted for after a plane crashed in a river.

Thirty-one people are now known to have died when the TransAsia ATR-72 plane came down in Taipei’s Keelung River on February 4.

Fifteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage, including a two-year-old boy.

Taiwan’s aviation regulator has ordered all operators of ATR planes to conduct “special checks”.

Many of the passengers were Chinese tourists and China will reportedly participate in a probe into the crash.

The death toll was expected to rise as rescue teams searched the river for the missing passengers.

“This morning we have some 60 divers going underwater to search” in addition to 20 boats scouring the river, said Liu Yung-chou, from the national fire agency which is leading the rescue operation.

Aviation authorities in Taiwan said the pilot and co-pilot were among the dead.

The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen.

Dramatic video footage shot from inside a passing car showed the plane banking sharply before clipping a taxi and the edge of the elevated road with its wing.

The final communication from the pilots to air traffic control was “Mayday, mayday, engine flame out”, aviation officials confirmed on February 5, after an audio snippet was widely broadcast by local media.TransAsia plane crash Taiwan 2015

The cause of the crash has not been identified, but the message indicates that one of the engines had stopped working – one propeller appeared from the footage to be not turning.

The aircraft ended up mostly underwater in the river, broken into several pieces. Rescue teams in dinghies ferried survivors to safety, but many of those on board were trapped inside the sunken wreckage.

Overnight, a crane hauled the half-submerged fuselage from the river.

Local media have reported the story of one escape, by a couple and their two-year-old son.

Lin Ming-wei was seated next to where the fuselage broke apart, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported. Unhurt, he acted quickly to get out of his seat and help his wife scramble out of the opening.

He found his son in the water and the boy was later resuscitated. Lin Ming-wei’s wife and son are recovering in hospital, CNA reported.

TransAsia is a Taiwan-based carrier that operates domestically and on some international routes from Taiwan. Its director, Peter Chen, said the aircraft was “the newest model. It hadn’t been used for even a year”.

The plane’s flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, have been recovered.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said in a statement that all 22 ATR planes being operated in Taiwan had to undergo a variety of checks including on the engines, fuel control systems and propeller systems.

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