Tue, Feb 10, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Public mourning ordered

PLANE CRASH:Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said he did not want to criticize the efforts of municipal government workers, but thought that there was room for progress

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Colleagues of TransAsia Airways pilot Liao Chien-tsung, who died in the TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 crash on Wednesday last week, attend a service in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Government agencies nationwide are to fly flags at half-mast today, mourning the victims of the TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 crash on Wednesday last week, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.

The ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft crashed into the Keelung River (基隆河) in Taipei just minutes after taking off from Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport).

Of the 58 people on board, including five crew members, 40 have been confirmed dead, while 15 survived and three remained missing as of yesterday.

Also, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said that rescuers have continued their mission at 22 key areas identified through sonar and with metal detectors, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has dispatched large cranes and platforms to deliver the wreckage of the aircraft to Songshan Air Force Base.

The work has taken a toll on rescuers, as many have been reported getting colds after working in low temperatures. The Taipei Fire Department said that it is seeking assistance from rescuers in central and southern Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Aviation Safety Council yesterday confirmed that the China Aviation Accident Investigation Center plans to send three representatives to Taiwan to join the council in investigating the cause of the accident.

Council executive director Thomas Wang (王興中) said this would be the first case investigated by both Taiwanese and Chinese investigators, adding that the preliminary crash report should be finished before this month’s Lunar New Year holiday.

Wang added that the council’s investigator would preserve aircraft wreckage after examining it with aviation experts from France.

The most crucial evidence to preserve would be the engines, whose functions and the connections to the computer system will be under close scrutiny, Wang added.

Meanwhile, responding to questions about whether it took too long to demolish a gate on an embankment along Keelung River to enable search operations, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he did not intend to criticize anyone’s performance, but that he thought that there is room for progress.

“I am a very strict supervisor, but I think all the municipal government employees have done a good job in the rescue efforts,” Ko said. “It is just that no one thought there would be a need to demolish the water gate to allow heavy machinery to move in, so I am sure the Department of Public Works will review the entire incident and think about whether to alter the design.”

Taipei Department of Public Works Director Peng Jhen-sheng (彭振聲) said the time required to demolish the water gate was not a crucial factor that delayed rescue efforts, which were influenced by the interplay of a number of factors, including poor soil quality and rain.

Flags flew at half-mast in September 1999 after an earthquake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,400 people and in August 2009, after 681 people died and 18 went missing after Typhoon Morakot.

The most recent period of national mourning was in August last year, after gas pipeline explosions in Kaohsiung killed 28 people and injured more than 300 on July 31 and Aug. 1 and the July 23 crash of a TransAsia ATR 72 in Penghu County that left 48 people dead.

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