July 26, 2014 09:00
Taiwanese authorities have identified 31 people killed when a domestic flight crashed during poor weather on Wednesday. Another 17 bodies remain unidentified.
Investigator Wang Xingzhong said officials are looking at flight data and recordings from the recovered black boxes to determine why the TransAsia Airways plane crashed near Magong airport on the island of Penghu.
"We have completed different interviews from noon to after noon and recorded the files on flight path and weather condition," said Wang. "As to recorders, in addition to black boxes, we also brought back other devices on the plane to investigate."
Ten people on board the ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop were injured and sent to a local hospital. Five people on the ground were also hurt.
The crash occurred Wednesday during a landing attempt as Typhoon Matmo battered the island with heavy rains and strong winds that forced the cancellation of about 200 other flights.
Li Wan-li, the vice minister of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, said weather conditions met aviation safety requirements and that no other planes had problems landing at the time.
"It was up to the airline company and the pilot to decide if they should fly or not after checking the weather," he said. "So maybe people have misunderstood. When we look at the data, the weather was in line with the standard during taking off or landing."
Officials say two French medical students are among the dead. The rest of the victims are Taiwanese. TransAsia Airways is offering $33,000 in compensation to each family of the deceased.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou called it a "very sad day in the history of Taiwan aviation." Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in a tour of Latin America, also said he felt "deeply grieved" at the incident.
The 70-seat plane was en route from Kaohsiung International Airport in southern Taiwan after a nearly two-hour delay.
Television images showed rescue workers and soldiers in torrential rains, using flashlights to search the wreckage for survivors.
Taiwanese officials say a black box has been recovered and an investigation is under way, but the airline has hinted poor weather was responsible for the crash.
It is Taiwan's first deadly air accident since 2002, when a China Airlines Boeing 747 crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing 225 people.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
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