Rescuers search for 8 still missing from Taiwan plane that crashed in river

  06 February 2015    Read: 596
Rescuers search for 8 still missing from Taiwan plane that crashed in river
Rescue workers are trying to find eight people still missing from the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed into a river in Taiwan on Wednesday, amid concerns that some of them might have been swept away by currents.
Thirty-five people have been confirmed dead from the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight GE235, and 15 people survived, many of them with injuries, according to Taiwan`s official news agency, CNA. Two people on the ground were also hurt.

Searchers continued to recover bodies of victims Friday, CNA reported, citing Taiwan`s Civil Aeronautics Administration. Pieces of wreckage from the ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop aircraft have been hauled out of the Keelung River in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital.

Rescuers fear those people still unaccounted for may have drifted downstream toward the larger Tamsui River. Divers have put up a net about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the crash site to try to catch the missing bodies, authorities said.

`I thought something`s wrong with the engine`

Taiwan`s President Ma Ying-jeou visited the injured in the hospital on Thursday and also went to a funeral parlor to express his condolences, his office said.

Some of the survivors have begun to give their accounts of the disaster in which the aircraft veered out of control shortly after taking off en route to Kinmen, a group of islands near the coast of the Chinese province of Fujian, then clipped a bridge before plunging into the river.

And a recording from the cockpit of the plane captured someone making a mayday call because of an engine problem shortly before the crash.

Huang Chin-shun, a 72-year-old survivor, told CNN affiliate ETTV from his hospital bed that he sensed something was amiss soon after takeoff.

"I thought something`s wrong with the engine because I always take this flight," he said.

"There was a girl beside me, and I told her to quickly release her safety belt, hold on tight to the chair in front, and cover her head with clothes," Huang told the broadcaster. "It was not long after I told her this that the plane went down."

After the crash, he said, he helped pull several people out of the submerged wreckage, injuring himself in the process.

Mayday call

The plane`s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered and their contents downloaded, said Wang Hsing-chung, the managing director of Taiwan`s Aviation Safety Council.

Investigators are analyzing the data from the so-called black boxes and may release key parts of the information Friday, Wang said. But the full analysis is expected to take months.

In the meantime, bits and pieces of information have come out that shed light on the aircraft`s final moments.

They include a male voice on a recording of radio conversations between air traffic control and Flight GE235 who says, "GE235. Mayday, mayday. Engine flameout."

The recording was verified by LiveATC.net, which records air traffic control feeds around the world. It is unclear whether the man was a pilot. The plane`s cockpit crew were among those confirmed dead, authorities said.

Former ATR pilot: Plane likely gliding

A pilot who once flew ATRs for American Airlines said it looked like the plane was gliding when dash-cam video from several angles captured the moments of the crash.

Stephen Fredrick pointed to the position of the nose, slightly down, and the wings, level.

"As it gets closer to the highway, there`s a change in the pitch attitude (position of the plane) and it appears the aircraft (left) wing stalls, or loses lift. That`s what causes the dramatic turn to the left," Fredrick told CNN`s "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "It`s what causes the aircraft to come down more forcefully and crash."

The plane was 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the airport, Fredrick said, at a point where the pilots should have been able to continue with the flight even if one engine failed. The distance indicated to him that the engine problem occurred well after takeoff.

"It appears that it could have had a single-engine flameout, it could have had a dual-engine flameout," he said. "Those are things we`re going to learn."

The left propeller was also set to a position for flight, rather than to a position for an inoperable engine, he said.

That could have caused drag and prompted the left wing to stall, CNN aviation analyst David Soucie said. Pilots normally before a flight will turn on a system that automatically adjusts the position of the propellers, the experts said.

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