32 killed in Taiwan plane crash

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The black box of the crashed plane is seen in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, Feb. 4, 2015. A Taiwan TransAsia Airways plane crashed into a Taipei river on Wednesday morning, killing at least 31 people. The black box of the plane has been retrieved. [Xinhua]

At least 32 people died after a Taiwan TransAsia Airways plane crashed into the Keelung River in Taipei on Wednesday morning, ten minutes after takeoff. Of them, 22 were from the Chinese mainland, according to local disaster relief authorities.

Flight GE235 was headed for Kinmen from Taipei with 53 passengers on board, including 31 from the Chinese mainland, and five crew. Three of the mainland passengers are known to be children.

A total of 15 survivors have been taken to nearby hospitals in Taipei and New Taipei City. The plane's two black boxes have been recovered and should be deciphered by Wednesday night.

A total of 11 others, still missing, are all tourists from the Chinese mainland.

The plane has been in service since April 2014 and was subject to a routine safety check last month, according to Taipei authorities.

The aircraft plunged into the river at 10:55 a.m. after its wing clipped a taxi with a man and a woman inside on an elevated freeway.

The mainland passengers were on trips organized by two travel agencies from Xiamen City in Fujian Province, the Taiwan tourism authority confirmed.

Xiamen police have fastracked travel documents for families of the mainland tourists on board so they can leave for Taiwan as early as possible.

The first group of eight family members of mainland passengers and four travel agency staff arrived in Taipei on Thursday morning. Another 16 family members, accompanied by eight travel agency staff will also arrive Thursday.

A seven-person working group including officials of the Xiamen tourism bureau came to Taipei on Wednesday evening and started to work.

The Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has sent a team to Taiwan to handle related affairs.

The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office and the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) launched a joint emergency response operation and are being kept up to date by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). They extended condolences to families of the victims and urged those on the ground to do as much as they could.

In a message to the SEF, ARATS said families of the Chinese mainland passengers on board the plane are anxious to know their relatives' whereabouts and hoped that the SEF would assist in providing information.

After the crash, a total of 1,551 people, 394 vehicles and 77 boats had been sent to the riverside rescue scene by 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Taiwan's civil aeronautics authority has decided to conduct safety check on the island's 22 ATR-72 aircraft before they are allowed to fly.

Taipei Songshan Airport had canceled eight local flights, which are all served by ATR-72 aircraft, by 8 a.m. on Thursday, according to the airport's website.

It was not the first time that the ATR-72 aircraft had crashed in Taiwan. On July 23, 2014, TransAsia Airways flight GE222, also an ATR-72 aircraft, crashed on Taiwan's Penghu islands, killing 48 people.

TransAsia Airways, founded in 1951, was Taiwan's first private airline, mainly focusing on short overseas flights.

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