Family of Taiwan crash victims blame authorities

Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed on late Wednesday in torrential rains.

Investigators search through the crash site where TransAsia Airways flight GE222 crashed on July 23, 2014 near the airport at Magong in Penghu Island, Taiwan. The crash killed 48 of the 58 people on board when it went down amid torrential rains. Ashley Pon/Getty Images
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MAGONG, TAIWAN // Taiwanese officials on Thursday defended flight clearance given to a plane which crashed in torrential rain, killing 48 people, as angry relatives blamed authorities for the worst air disaster in a decade.

The domestic TransAsia Airways flight was carrying 54 passengers and four crew members when it crashed in Magong in the Penghu island chain, with 10 survivors.

Two French medical students were among the dead, the French foreign ministry said.

The ATR 72-500, a propeller plane, was flying from Kaohsiung in southwestern Taiwan to the islands off the west coast when it crashed into two houses near Magong airport, injuring five people on the ground.

Flight GE222 was attempting to land for the second time after aborting the first attempt during thunder and heavy rain as Typhoon Matmo pounded Taiwan.

“The airline should not let the plane take off in such bad weather,” a man who gave his family name as Hsu said outside a funeral home in Penghu, his eyes and nose red from crying.

Hsu’s 28-year-old son was killed in the crash.

“The weather was so terrible and Taiwan was still under the typhoon’s influence, [the plane] shouldn’t have taken off,” the daughter of pilot Lee Yi-liang, who also died, said.

Taiwanese officials defended the decision to allow the flight to go ahead.

“Many people were questioning why the plane took off in typhoon weather... according to my understanding the meteorology data showed that it met the aviation safety requirements,” transport minister Yeh Kuang-shih said.

Two planes had landed safely at Magong airport shortly before the disaster, officials said.

* Agence France-Presse