TAIPEI, Taiwan — A plane attempting to land in stormy weather crashed on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, killing 48 people and wrecking houses and cars on the ground.
The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed on Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, authorities said. The plane was arriving from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.
Two people aboard the plane were French citizens and the rest Taiwanese, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told reporters. The twin-engine turboprop crashed while making a second landing attempt, Yeh said.
The crash of flight GE222 was Taiwan's first fatal air accident in 12 years and came after Typhoon Matmo passed across the island, causing heavy rains that continued into Wednesday night. Some 200 airline flights had been canceled earlier in the day due to rain and strong winds.
The official death toll was 48, according to Wen Chia-hung, spokesman for the Penghu disaster response center. He said the 10 other people were injured.
Authorities were looking for one person who might have been in a house that was struck by wreckage, Wen said.
About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the government's Central News Agency.
The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.
The Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt.
Taiwan was battered by Matmo overnight Tuesday, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain Wednesday evening, even after the center of the storm had moved west to mainland China.
In Taipei, TransAsia Airways' general manager, Hsu Yi-Tsung, bowed deeply before reporters and tearfully apologized for the accident, the news agency said.
Penghu, a scenic chain of 64 islets, is a popular tourist site about 90 miles southwest of the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.