At least 12 people have died after a TransAsia Airways plane clipped a bridge and crashed into a river near the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.
Fifty-eight people were onboard the domestic flight. The fuselage is now half-submerged in the Keelung River and lying on its side.
Rescuers on boats have cut it open to gain access to people trapped inside.
Officials say 16 people have suffered injuries, with some taken to hospital. Thirty people remain unaccounted for.
Cindy Sui reports: ”Many of the people on board are still inside the aircraft”
The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the outlying Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen, CNA said.
Flight controllers lost contact with the plane at 10:55 local time (02:55 GMT).
Footage of the plane filmed from inside passing cars showed it banking sharply, hitting a taxi and clipping the bridge before crashing into the river.
- Founded in 1951 as Taiwan’s first private civilian-operated domestic airline, later expanded to overseas routes.
- One of the region’s smaller carriers though has rapidly expanded in recent years.
- Has about 20 planes in its fleet – a mix of Airbus and dual-propeller ATR planes.
- Gained popularity due to its low-cost tickets.
- Flies many routes between Taiwan and mainland China, and to other parts of South East Asia.
- In July 2014, 48 people died when a TransAsia Airways plane crashed amid stormy weather in Taiwan’s Penghu archipelago.
Television images showed rescuers standing on large sections of broken wreckage trying to pull passengers out of the plane with ropes.
Those that were rescued were helped into dinghies and taken to shore, including a small boy.
Some were then placed on stretchers and taken to hospital. But officials said some passengers were still trapped inside the wreckage which appeared to be upside down and broken into many parts in the river.
“We’re asking the public works department for heavy cranes to be deployed, in the hopes that the body of the plane can be lifted up,” said Wu Jun-Hong, assistant director of Taipei’s fire department.
“At the moment, we think a lot of the trapped people are in the head of the plane.”
Out of the 58 people on board 53 are believed to be passengers and five are crew. Thirty-one of the passengers are tourists from mainland China.
The BBC’s Cindy Sui in Taipei says the Chinese tourists could have been on their way home as many people come to Taiwan through Kinmen island.
The chief executive of TransAsia, Chen Xinde, offered a “deep apology” to passengers and crew on board in a televised news conference, Reuters news agency reported.