* Dramatic footage shows stricken plane’s wing clipping taxi, motorway * ‘Mayday Mayday engine flameout’: air traffic control recording * Passengers swim, wade away from submerged wreckage * Thirty-one mainland Chinese among 58 on board
Taipei | A TransAsia Airways plane with 58 passengers and crew on board careered into a river shortly after taking off from a downtown Taipei airport today, killing 23 people and leaving 20 missing, officials said.
Fifteen people survived the crash after the plane lurched between buildings, clipped a taxi and 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 showed the plane careening 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.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ a volunteer rescuer surnamed Chen said of the most recent in a series of disasters to hit Asian carriers in the past 12 months.
Television footage showed survivors wearing life jackets wading and swimming clear of wreckage. Others, including a young child, were taken to shore in inflatable boats.
Emergency rescue officials crowded around the partially submerged fuselage of flight GE235, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board. 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 percent in heavy trade, its biggest percentage decline since late 2011.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said his government had offered Taiwan any help necessary following the crash.
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