Taiwan plane crash: Typhoon Matmo could have caused TransAsia Airways disaster, airline suspects

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

Typhoon conditions probably brought down a TransAsia Airways plane on a Taiwanese island, killing 48 people, the airline said today.

It is believed that stormy weather on the trailing edge of Typhoon Matmo was the likely cause of the crash in the Penghu island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late on Wednesday.

The ATR-72 jet was travelling from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan with 58 passengers and crew on board when it crashed near the runway while attempting to land.

Among the victims were 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 cancelled 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.

Video: Taiwan plane crash

An official at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, air traffic control, told Reuters that the inclement weather at the time of the crash did not exceed international regulations for landing.

Visibility was 1,600 metres and the cloud cover was as low as 600 metres, added the official, who declined to be identified.

The crash of Flight GE222 was Taiwan's first fatal air accident in 12 years. In 2002, a China Airlines Boeing 747 broke apart in mid-air near Penghu and crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing all 225 people aboard.

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 kilometres (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.

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.

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 (£3,880) and paying another $27,000 (£15,900) for funeral expenses.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading and innovative con...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue