Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Penghu Crash: President expresses sorrow over deaths, orders investigation

Staff writer, with CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expressed deep sorrow on Wednesday night after learning of the TransAsia Airways crash in Penghu that killed 48 of its 58 passengers and crew.

“The president has instructed the relevant authorities to get to the bottom of what caused the accident on Wednesday evening as soon as possible. The president also called Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) as soon as he learned of the air crash on the outlying island county. Jiang immediately set up a disaster response center at the Executive Yuan to handle the aftermath of the accident, including rescuing the injured, determining the cause of the crash and providing every possible assistance to the crash victims’ family members,” Presidential Office spokesman Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) said.

“President Ma is closely watching what he called the most severe aviation accident in Taiwan in years,” the spokesman added.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), of which the president is the chairman, offered its condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the crash, and said in a statement that it would do whatever it could to offer family members of the victims “necessary aid.”

The flight from Kaohsiung to Magong, TransAsia Airways Flight GE222, crashed in Penghu’s Husi Township (湖西) amid heavy rain just past 7:06pm.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) departed for Penghu at 11pm on Wednesday.

The airplane, a twin-engine turboprop ATR 72, crashed into residential buildings and caught fire after losing contact with Magong Airport. No residents were killed, but four were apparently injured, according to eyewitnesses.

The flight was scheduled to take off from Greater Kaohsiung at 4pm, heading for Magong. The departure, however, was delayed until 5:42pm due to bad weather.

The Penghu Fire Department said the passenger aircraft was trying to land in the inclement weather when it crashed on its second attempt. An investigation has been launched to determine what caused the crash.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, about 200 military personnel have been dispatched to help handle the aftermath of the crash.

“Penghu Defense Commander lieutenant general Chou Hau-yu (周皓瑜) led soldiers to the scene to help recover the 58 people on board and send them to the hospital,” Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said.

The defense ministry said ambulances and military vehicles rushed passengers to nearby hospitals, and it has ordered the Air Force’s rescue group to be on standby to transfer the injured to Taiwan for further medical treatment if necessary.

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