Plane crashes in Taiwan, 47 trapped, feared dead

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Plane crashes in Taiwan, 47 trapped, feared dead
A relative of a passenger onboard TransAsia Airways Flight GE222 that crashed on the Taiwanese island of Penghu, cries at a funeral parlor in Penghu, Thursday, July 24, 2014. The plane attempting to land in stormy weather crashed on the island late Wednesday, killing dozens of people and wrecking houses and cars on the ground. (AP Photo) TAIWAN OUT
A relative of a passenger on the Taiwan domestic TransAsia Airways flight GE222 that crashed on the Taiwan island of Penghu, reacts at the flight's departure airport in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Local officials say the domestic airline carrier's plane crashed while attempting to land in rough weather, leaving many people feared dead and some injured. (AP Photo) TAIWAN OUT
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, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and a transport minister said dozens of people were trapped and feared dead. (AP Photo/Wong Yao-wen)
Rescue workers survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways Flight GE222 on the Taiwanese island of Penghu Thursday, July 24, 2014. The plane attempting to land in stormy weather crashed on the island late Wednesday, killing more than 40 people and wrecking houses and cars on the ground. (AP Photo) TAIWAN OUT
Rescue workers survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways Flight GE222 which crashed on the Taiwanese island of Penghu Thursday, July 24, 2014. The plane attempting to land in stormy weather crashed on the island late Wednesday, killing more than 40 people and wrecking houses and cars on the ground. (AP Photo) TAIWAN OUT
Seen in a raining downpour, a vehicle is covered in rubble from the wreckage from a Taiwan domestic airline that crashed while attempting to land in typhoon weather on the Taiwan island of Penghu, 150 kilometers, (93 miles), off Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and mainland China, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Local officials say the domestic airline carrier Trans Asia flight GE 222 crashed on landing with many people feared dead and some injured. (AP Photo/Wong Yao-wen)
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, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and a transport minister said dozens of people were trapped and feared dead. (AP Photo/Wong Yao-wen)
The Director of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Sheng Ching (2L) speaks to media at the Sungshan airport in Taipei on July 23, 2014. More than 40 people were killed in a plane crash in Taiwan, officials said, with local television reporting the flight had smashed into two houses after an aborted landing. Authorities said Taiwanese airline TransAsia Airways flight GE222, with 58 on board, crashed near Magong airport on the outlying Penghu island after having requested a second attempt to land. AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Local journalists wait in front of a TransAsia reservations desk at the Sungshan airport in Taipei on July 23, 2014. More than 40 people were killed in a plane crash in Taiwan, officials said, with local television reporting the flight had smashed into two houses after an aborted landing. Authorities said Taiwanese airline TransAsia Airways flight GE222, with 58 on board, crashed near Magong airport on the outlying Penghu island after having requested a second attempt to land. AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Map locates city of Magong, Taiwan; 1c x 3 inches; 46.5 mm x 76 mm;
Rescue workers survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and a transport minister said dozens of people were trapped and feared dead. (AP Photo/Wong Yao-wen)
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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and the transport minister said 47 people were trapped and feared dead.

Another 11 people were injured when the ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways crashed on Penghu, an island in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih was quoted as saying by the government's Central News Agency. The plane was arriving from Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan.

The twin-engine turboprop plane crashed while making a second landing attempt with a total of 58 passengers and crew members aboard, according to Yeh.

President Ma Ying-jeou called it "a very sad day in the history of Taiwanese aviation" and ordered authorities to quickly clarify the details, said a spokesman for his office, Ma Wei-kuo, the news agency reported.

The plane crashed in the village of Xixi outside the airport. Photos in local media showed firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness, and buildings and cars damaged by debris.

About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the Central News Agency.

The ministry said military vehicles and ambulances were rushing people to hospitals and an air force rescue team was on standby to transfer survivors to Taiwan's main island if needed for treatment, the agency reported.

The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.

Visibility as the plane approached was 1,600 meters (one mile), which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed before GE222, one at 5:34 p.m. and the other at 6:57 p.m., the aviation agency reported. Shen said the plane was 14 years old.

But the Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt. The news agency had earlier quoted a local fire chief as saying 51 people had been killed.

Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo overnight Tuesday, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain Wednesday evening, even after the center of the storm had moved west to mainland China.

TransAsia Airways' general manager, Hsu Yi-Tsung, bowed deeply before reporters and tearfully apologized for the accident, the Central News Agency said.

Hsu said the carrier was arranging to take the relatives of passengers on the flight to Magong on Thursday morning and that it would spare no effort in the rescue and in handling the aftermath, the report said.

Taiwan's last major aviation disaster also was near Penghu. A China Airlines Boeing 747 broke apart in midair in 2002 and crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing all 225 people aboard.

In October 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

At Least 47 Dead in Taiwan Plane Crash

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