At least 25 dead as Taiwan plane plunges into river

TAIPEI:
At least 25 people were killed today when a passenger plane operated by TransAsia Airways clipped an overpass soon after take-off and plunged into a river in Taiwan, the airline’s second crash in seven months.
As the rescue operation continued into the night, a crane lifted the rear and central sections of the plane from the water, with one body retrieved from inside.
The front part, where 17 people are believed to be trapped, was still in the water.
TransAsia said 16 survivors had been pulled out of the wreckage after the turboprop plane crashed with 58 people onboard. Many of the passengers were mainland Chinese tourists.
Cold weather, poor visibility and rising water levels were hampering the rescue, officials said, admitting they were now “not optimistic” about finding survivors.
Dramatic amateur video footage showed the TransAsia ATR 72-600 hit an elevated road as it banked sidelong towards the Keelung River, leaving a trail of debris including a smashed taxi.
“I saw a taxi, probably just metres ahead of me, being hit by one wing of the plane. The plane was huge and really close to me. I’m still trembling,” one witness told TVBS news channel.
A reporter at the scene said he had seen bodies being pulled from the wreckage into the early evening.
Desperate crew shouted “Mayday! Mayday! Engine flameout!” as the plane plunged out of the sky, according to a recording thought to be the final message from the cockpit to the control tower played on local television.
Aviation officials said they had not released the cockpit recording, suggesting it may have come from amateurs monitoring the radio.
“An engine flameout refers to the engine shutting down in flight,” said Daniel Tsang, founder of Hong Kong-based aviation consultancy Aspire Aviation.
“The engine stops producing thrust and the combustion process fails and no longer generates any forward propulsion to the aeroplane.” (AGENCIES)

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