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Taiwan airlines suspects bad weather caused crash



BY RALPH JENNINGS

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Stormy weather on the trailing edge of Typhoon Matmo was the likely cause of a plane crash on a Taiwanese island that killed 48 people, the airline said Thursday.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed while landing in the Penghu island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday. The plane was flying from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

The victims included 46 Taiwanese and two French medical students who were interns in Taiwan.

The crash came hours after Matmo passed over Taiwan. About 200 airline flights at Taiwanese airports had been canceled earlier in the day due to rain and high winds. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau had warned of heavy rains into Wednesday evening even after Matmo moved west into China.

"According to what we can understand so far, this was due to weather, the influence of the typhoon," a TransAsia representative, Phoebe Lu, told The Associated Press. She said the carrier was waiting for Taiwanese authorities to complete an investigation to get confirmation.

At Least 47 Dead in Taiwan Plane Crash

The crash of Flight GE222 was Taiwan's first fatal air accident in 12 years.

On Thursday, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou called for one minute of silence in memory of the victims.

"I think that like a lot of citizens, last night I felt very sorrowful," he said in comments broadcast on television.

The airline identified the French passengers as Jeromine Deramond and Penelope Luternauer. They were medical school interns at Taipei's National Taiwan University, the university said.

The airline said one of the injured 10 survivors had gone home and five local residents who were hurt on the ground were treated and released. The crash damaged eight houses, according to Chen Tung-yi, a section chief with the Penghu disaster response center.

"All the bodies have been dug out," Chen said.

Family members were flying to Magong airport near the crash site to visit a morgue and identify victims, the airline said.

Penghu, a scenic chain of 64 islets, is a popular tourist site about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

The 14-year-old plane lost contact with the tower after saying it would make a second landing attempt, according to the head of Taiwan's air regulator, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen.

Visibility as the plane approached was 1,600 meters (one mile), which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed shortly before GE222, the aviation agency said.

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 attempt a second landing.

The plane showed no defects and had ample visibility to land safely, said a spokesman for Taiwan's air regulator, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, Lee Wan-lee.

In the village of Xixi, where the plane came down, television stations showed disaster crews picking through the remains of the aircraft cabin, demolished houses and a smashed car.

The plane's captain had 22 years of flying experience and the co-pilot had 2-1/2 years, according to the Central News Agency. It said the airline was offering the family of each victim about $6,600 and paying another $27,000 for funeral expenses.

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

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stengernc July 24 2014 at 6:42 AM

If you fly you die....bad weather increase the risks...cancel your flight...tomorrow will still be there.

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1 reply
stvhndyman stengernc July 24 2014 at 7:27 AM

Many thousands of people fly each day and DON'T die. Yes this has been a bad week/month for aviation, but many people are still flying and surviving!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
skyofblue17 July 24 2014 at 6:29 AM

There seems to be a glut of air-line tragedies this week. And now I hear one is missing in Africa too. R.I.P. to all of the passengers on them.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Heather July 24 2014 at 11:07 AM

Welp, there goes my flying for a long, long, long time...so very sorry for all the pain and suffering! May God be with them thru out their grief,,,too sad...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
pobo52 July 24 2014 at 8:44 AM

Flying through the edge of a typhoon was the likely cause of the crash. Brilliant deduction.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
gramargo pobo52 July 24 2014 at 3:37 PM

There could well have been wind shear, which doesn't show up on radar. Since he was flying low in order to land, he'd have no room to maneuver at all.

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debnaert July 24 2014 at 10:43 AM

I'll NEVER EVER fly on an ASIAN AIRLINE... ever.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bd64kcmo July 24 2014 at 8:04 AM

NBC News showed them departing in the outer bands of an exiting typhoon. No idea WHY they were flying in those conditions. Seems another flight left Hong Kong about 13 years ago in a similar situation and lost sight of the correct runway. Instead they took off down a runway full of construction equipment. No need for this!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
wildcatsranger July 24 2014 at 2:35 PM

This article is poorly written. Can't tell if the person who is out of the hospital was actually "on the plane" because it also states some are still in the hospital that were injured on the ground. Where did this blogger go to Journalism school?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
pdgrovebaskets July 24 2014 at 4:01 PM

As horrible and as terrible as this is for the families, at least the cause is something that pretty much out of the control of mankind, unlike the jetliner shot down earlier in the week. There was no excuse on the face of the earth that will EVER justify that act and honestly, I would hate to be the person who made the decision to do so with the weight of what he did on his conscious. I wouldn't want to meet my maker with that on my list of "sins" either. And YES, there is an afterlife. My own mother has been there and back. My mother "flatlined" during a medical emergency about 10 years ago, went through the white light, saw her parents, the whole bit. She did NOT want to come back due to the incredible beauty of everything. She was told she had to go back, it wasn't time. She was angry about it for at least 2 years until she learned why she was needed back here. There was and still is a good reason. So folks, remember that in how you live your life.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
laferiabil July 24 2014 at 1:24 PM

I have been told they always come in three's and this is number three so may be we can catch a brake and CNN will have to start reporting the news!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Brian Workman July 25 2014 at 12:29 AM

Common Far Left Liberal Agenda Democrats! Bush did it!!

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