Four more bodies were found in Taipei early Friday as rescuers expanded their search of a river where a commercial passenger plane crashed this week, local media reported. TransAsia Airways flight GE235 left Taipei’s Songshan Airport on Wednesday morning with 53 passengers and five crew members on board but hurtled into a river soon after take-off.
Two of the bodies were found about 100 metres downstream from the main crash site. The total number of dead stands at 35, after the Civil Aeronautics Administration confirmed earlier Friday that 31 people had been killed.
State-run Central News Agency had reported Thursday that the death toll was 32, but later amended its figures. Fifteen people remain in hospital, with the remaining victims still missing.
A group religious ceremony was performed by relatives of victims on the banks of the river as the search operation continued early Friday.
More than 300 rescuers, including 50 divers, were involved in an expanded search for missing people in the Keelung River, the Taipei City Fire Department said. The focus is on six designated sections downstream of the crash site.
The curving Keelung River joins the larger Tamsui River and flows out to sea. The Coast Guard has said it will help search coastal areas up to 10 nautical miles off the mouth of the Tamsui River. There were 31 Chinese tourists and 22 Taiwanese passengers on board. Among the 31 Chinese passengers, three were injured and 22 died, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.
Some flight data from the plane was expected to be released Friday, Taiwanese aviation authorities said. Local media reported that the last communication from one of the aircraft’s pilots was “Mayday, mayday, engine flameout,” according to an air traffic control recording on liveatc.net.
Survivor Huang Jin-sun told ETTV television Thursday from his hospital bed that he felt there was something wrong with the engine.
“There was some sound next to me. It did not feel right shortly after take-off. The engine did not feel right,” the 72-year-old man told ETTV television Thursday from his hospital bed.