Dramatic footage shows a Taiwanese airliner clip a motorway and crash into a river in Taipei shortly after take-off, killing at least 26 people.
Taiwanese rescue authorities lifted the damaged hull of a TransAsia Airways plane from a river late on Wednesday, where it crashed shortly after taking off from a downtown Taipei airport.
Officials said at least 20 people were still missing. The plane was carrying 58 passengers and crew.
The video above – taken by a motorist – showed the plane cartwheeling over the motorway soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in apparently clear weather on a domestic flight for the island of Kinmen.
The search and rescue operation was expected to carry on through the night.
Miraculously, 15 people survived the crash after the plane lurched between buildings, clipped an overpass with its port-side wing and crashed upside down in the shallow water.
Dramatic pictures taken by a motorist and posted on Twitter (above) showed the plane cartwheeling over the motorway soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in apparently clear weather on a domestic flight for the island of Kinmen. China said 31 Chinese nationals were onboard.
The plane missed apartment buildings by metres, though it was not clear if that was luck or whether the pilot was aiming for the river. Footage showed a van skidding to a halt on the damaged overpass after barely missing the plane’s wing, with small pieces of the aircraft scattered along the road.
The chief executive of TransAsia, Peter Chen, bowed deeply at a televised news conference as he apologised to passengers and crew. TransAsia’s shares closed down 6.9 per cent in heavy trade, its biggest percentage decline since late 2011.
The last communication from one of the aircraft’s pilots was “Mayday Mayday engine flameout”, according to an air traffic control recording on liveatc.net.
A flameout occurs when the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted or when there is faulty combustion, resulting in an engine failure. Twin-engined aircraft, however, are usually able to keep flying even when one engine has failed.
TransAsia is Taiwan’s third-largest carrier. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last July, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.
The crash is the latest in a string of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the past year. An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore crashed soon after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya in December, killing all 162 people on board.
Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared and one of its sister planes was downed over Ukraine with a combined loss of 539 lives.