(AA) – Scores of divers and rescue boats continued searching a river in Tawian’s capital Taipei on Thursday as the death toll from a TransAsia plane crash rose to 31.
The official figures released by Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration stood at 31 as of 10.25 a.m. (0225GMT), with the captain of Flight GE235 and his two first officers included among the victims, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
The domestic flight between Taipei’s Songshan airport and the Kinmen islands, off China’s southeast coast, was carrying 53 passengers and five crew members when it crashed a few minutes after taking off at 10.52 a.m. Wednesday.
The agency showed footage, taken from a Taiwanese Twitter user, of the plane clipping an elevated section of road before plunging into the Keelung river. The aircraft’s wing appeared to strike the roof of a taxi.
Among those injured in the incident, there were 15 passengers and the driver and passenger of the taxi.
The aviation authority said that a record of communications between the cockpit of the ill-fated ATR-72 plane and the control tower indicated the pilot had called out “mayday” three times prior to the crash.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post cited an aviation official as confirming the authenticity of the recording in which a pilot said “mayday, mayday, engine flameout.”
Using the international emergency call, the pilot referred to a situation where flames in the engine’s combustion chamber are extinguished, causing it to shut down.
At least 16 of the dead were residents of mainland China, the country’s state news agency reported, citing the local disaster response authority.
All the missing passengers are also tourists from the mainland, according to Xinhua, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered that accurate information be obtained and the relatives of the passengers cared for.
China’s National Tourism Administration dispatched a team to Taiwan to help in search efforts and arrangements for the family members of passengers relatives to travel to the island.
The two black boxes have been recovered, with several sections of the plane — including its cockpit – being retrieved from the river.
Poor visibility due to murky water conditions has hampered rescue efforts.
Following the accident, the Civil Aeronautics Authority has ordered that safety checks be carried out on 22 ATR-72 planes before their clearance for flight, focusing on their engines, fuel control systems, propellor systems, spark plugs and ignition connectors.
Meanwhile, Songshan airport announced on its website Thursday morning that it had canceled eight local flights — all involving ATR-72 aircraft.