The Taiwan plane that crashed last week yields more footage from the disaster. TransAsia Airways GE325 careened out of control, despite the heroic efforts of Taiwan pilot Liao Chien-Tsung. The additional video footage comes from a surveillance tape atop a 21-story building near the Keelung River in Taiwan. The footage shows the ATR-72 narrowly missing the building before descending into the river shortly after take off. It missed the building by about a yard.
Fifteen people survived the plane crash last Wednesday. More than 40 individuals were killed and three bodies have yet to be recovered. Rescuers believe those bodies are buried under the mud near the river, but continue in the cold and rain to recover them so they will have a decent burial.
Those who survived the wreck sensed trouble at the start of the flight. One passenger, Huan Jin-Sun, 72, says that he heard strange sounds coming from the engine. After the crash, Jin-Sun helped rescue four passengers from the plane, releasing them from their seatbelts before the plane submerged. He is recuperating at a Taipei hospital after receiving minor cuts to the chin. Taipei’s president, Mai Ying-jeou visited him and other survivors as they convalesced.
Two-year old Lin Riyao had a more harrowing experience. After being submerged under the water for three minutes, his father Ling Winmei plucked him from the wreckage of the plane. When he noticed that the toddler had no heartbeat, he immediately performed CPR, which restarted his heart. Winmei also knew that there was something wrong at the start of the flight. He moved his family from the right side of the plane to left side, because he too heard strange sounds coming from the engine. Ling Winmei’s wife Jiang Yuying escaped any injury.
Despite the noises that passengers heard, The ATR 72 was a new plane with a recently replaced engine. After the accident, TransAsia Air pilots are being trained in how to handle engine failure. Pilots who do not pass certification will be grounded pending further training. Although the official report will not be out for several months, officials believe the plane experienced engine trouble. Information from the black box records the pilot saying, “(m)ayday, mayday. Engine flameout.” A flameout indicates that gas supply to the engine has been interrupted. This can come from debris or even birds interrupting the gasoline flow. According to Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council, power was cut to both engines, and the right engine switched to idle mode. The crew of the plane shut down the left engine and tried to restart it, to no avail. Some reports say that the pilot may have caused the crash because he turned off the wrong engine.
The body of Liao Chien-Tsung and his co-pilot were recovered from the downed plane. Despite the new findings, Taiwan’s Vice President Wu Din-yeh hailed Chien-Tsung as a hero for navigating the plane around the buildings, sparing even more lives. The dead are being mourned in Taiwan. Relatives of the victims performed mourning rituals on the bank of the Keelung River. Flags were flown at half-staff and a memorial service was held in Taipei to honor the dead. Through it all, rescue divers continue to muddle through the cold and rain to recover the bodies of the last three victims, two Chinese and one Taiwanese.
By Danielle Branch
Photo by Ken Marshall – Flickr
Photo by Mingjia Zhou – Flickr