Taiwan airlines suspects bad weather caused crash

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Taiwan airlines suspects bad weather caused crash
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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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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