A plane making a second landing attempt in stormy weather crashed at an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, killing 51 people and injuring 7, fire officials said.
The flight was heading from the capital, Taipei, to the island Penghu, halfway between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait. According to The Star, citing Taiwan News, flight GE222 was scheduled to depart Kaohsiung Siaogang Airport at 4pm, but only took off at 5:43pm due to bad weather.
It was scheduled to land in Penghu’s Magong Airport half an hour later.
However, the aircraft crashed from about 28 metres above the ground. Taiwan media understands that the plane did not skid; the cockpit hit the ground first and burst into flames. Taiwan’s Central News Agency cites the Civil Aviation Administration as saying the flight carried 54 passengers and 4 flight crew and was operated by a Taiwanese airline, TransAsia Airways.
Shanghai Morning Post says the pilot of the aircraft had 23,000km of flying experience and the co-pilot had 22,000 km of flying experience.
Pictures from the airport showed a handful of firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness.
Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo early Tuesday morning, and the Central Weather Bureau was advising of heavy rain through the evening, even though the centre of the storm was in mainland China.
Malaysia Airlines, which experienced 2 devastating tragedies (#MH370 and #MH17) in less than half a year, has tweeted a message of support for TransAsia Airways flight GE222 upon hearing news of the crash:
Our thoughts are with all those on board TransAsia Airways #GE222, their families and loved ones.
— Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) July 23, 2014
CNA, citing Shanghai Morning Post, reports that TransAsia Airways has released the list of names of passengers on the flight. Relatives have rushed to the airport upon hearing news of the crash. According to People’s Daily China, 48 passengers are confirmed dead while 15 others injured, including 5 on the ground.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and loved one of those who were on board the #Ge222 flight.