Taiwanese news agency says 10 people were injured
Two of the people killed were from France
Taiwan's transportation minister says there were no casualties on the ground
CNN affiliate ETTV says plane hit a residential building
At least 48 people were killed when a twin-engine turboprop plane crashed Wednesday while attempting to land in Taiwan’s Penghu Islands, according to Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration.
Officials say 10 people were injured in the plane crash and that five residents on the ground were also hurt. Taiwan’s Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told reporters there were no casualties on the ground.
Taiwanese authorities are now identifying victims and investigating the cause of the crash.
Two of the people killed were believed to be French passengers, identified as Jeromine Deramond and Penelope Luternauer, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. One of those on the passenger’s list was an 82-year-old Taiwanese wood craftsman, according to local Taiwanese media.
Footage aired on CNN affiliate ETTV showed the plane had crashed in a residential area and broken into pieces. ETTV reported that the fallen plane destroyed or damaged 11 houses.
The central weather bureau reported lightning storms at the time and winds between 40 and 45 mph, the news agency said.
Injured passengers were taken to Penghu Hospital, and TransAsia Airways established an emergency response center, according to a statement issued by the airline.
The president of TransAsia Airways, Chooi Yee-choong, appeared briefly at a news conference and bowed in front of news cameras. He choked up as he expressed his sorrow to passengers’ families and the public. “I sincerely apologize,” he said.
Before Flight GE222 took off from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, it had been delayed because of conditions related to a typhoon, the airline said. The plane was a 72-seat twin-engine turboprop ATR 72.
“TransAsia Airways is exhausting all means to assist passengers, victims and families” and working with investigators, its statement read.
One of the plane’s flight data recorders was recovered, and investigators will examine the crash site Thursday, the minister said.
The plane crashed near Magong Airport at about 7 p.m., according to CNA. Witnesses told ETTV that they saw homes on fire.
The cause of the crash is unknown.
Some media reports said strong winds from Typhoon Matmo, which hit Taiwan early Wednesday, forced the plane to attempt a crash landing.
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration director, Jean Shen told reporters that visibility at Magong Airport at the time of the plane’s attempted landing was about 1,600 meters (1 mile) and considered acceptable for landing.
The Penghu Islands are off the west coast of the main Taiwanese island.
CNN’s Mitra Mobasherat and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.