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47 killed as Taiwan jet crashes in bad weather

Taipei, July 23 (Reuters): A TransAsia Airways turboprop plane crashed on its second attempt at landing during a thunderstorm on an island off Taiwan today, killing 47 people and setting buildings on fire, officials said.

The plane, a 70-seat ATR 72, crashed near the runway on the island of Penghu, west of the mainland, with 54 passengers and four crew on board, they said. No one was killed or hurt in the buildings.

Eleven injured people on the plane were taken to hospital, the government said.

The aircraft took off from Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, headed for the island of Makong, but crash-landed in Huxi township of Penghu County, the main island of the chain also known as the Pescadores.

“It was thunderstorm conditions during the crash,” said Hsi Wen-guang, a spokesman for the Penghu County Government Fire Bureau.

“From the crash site we sent 11 people to hospital with injuries. A few empty apartment buildings adjacent to the runway caught fire, but no one was inside at the time and the fire was extinguished.”

About 100 firefighters were sent to the scene, as well as 152 military personnel and 255 police, he added.

According to an official at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, air traffic control reported 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. TV networks aired footage of TransAsia’s president bowing in apology.

 
 
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