Taipei: A Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane with 53 passengers and 5 crew members crashed into river shortly after take off on Wednesday, killing over 20 people and leaving many others unaccounted for, reports said.
As the latest updates trickle in, the death toll has hit 19 even as rescuers aboard lifeboats were struggling to save the passengers stuck in the submerged plane's wreckage.
TransAsia Airways flight GE235 – a French-made ATR-72 turboprop – was flying from capital city of Taipei to the outlying island of Kinmen. Having taken off from Songshan Airport at 10:45 am, it lost contact with flight controllers just after ten minutes into flight and crash landed in Keelung River in Taipei.
Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) said that the plane crashed into river after hitting off Nanhu Bridge. The report added that the pilot appeared to try to control the plane as it descended, but the aircraft's wings hit a taxi, injuring its occupants. However, they were safe.
Many news sites posted dash-cam footage that shows the dramatic out-of-control descent of TransAsia Airways flight GE235 as it veered towards a highway, before crashing into river.
Local TV visuals showed the wreckage of a plane floating in the river.
According to Taipei Fire Department, 16 people have been rescued so far. Others seemingly remain trapped in the submerged wreckage of the plane, waiting to be rescued.
Thirty-one Chinese tourists were among those on board, said Taiwan's tourism bureau.
Meanwhile, TransAsia CEO Chen Xinde apologised to the passengers and their kins for the tragic incident.
Appearing at a news conference in Taiwan, the CEO bowed while offering a "deep apology".
Last timer a TransAsia Airways plane met an accident was in July 2014 when 49 were killed when a 70-seat ATR 72 turboprop plane crashed near the runway while trying to land on the small island of Penghu island.