Survivor of Taiwan air crash ‘pulled herself from wreckage and ran to call her father’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 5:10pm

One of the survivors of the Taiwan plane crash clambered from the wreckage and ran to a nearby house to call her father for help, reports said.

Hung Yu-ting was pinned beneath seats after the TransAsia Airways plane came down on the island of Penghu, suffering burns to her back and legs.

But she managed to free herself and ran for help, her father told Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

“She told me ‘the plane crashed’ and sounded weak over the phone,” he said, adding that Hung, a Penghu resident, had flown to Kaoshiung on Tuesday for a conference, but had returned home on Wednesday after it was cancelled due to Typhoon Matmo.

Hung’s father told how he drove to the scene of the crash, where he said he helped save another man from the wreckage.

He added that some villagers had mistaken the crash of the plane during a storm as crashes of thunder.

Hung was taken to intensive care suffering from inhalation injures and burns.

The mother of another survivor said: “My daughter called me. She said 'mum, my  plane crashed’. She said she climbed out and borrowed a phone from others.”

“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.

TransAsia Airlines said that 48 people had been killed in the crash and that the remaining 10 onboard had been injured, while five people on the ground suffered injuries.

The airline said today that family members of those on board had taken a charter flight to Magong airport, near where the crash happened. They would then be taken to a morgue to identify victims.

“All the bodies have been dug out,” said Chen Tung-yi, a section chief with the Penghu disaster response centre. “We’re cleaning up the site now and also doing appraisals of the situation and trying to identify victims.”

The plane crashed into eight houses, including some built from coral harvested off the coast, Chen said.

Penghu residents said they heard what they thought was thunder followed by what sounded like an explosion, the Central News Agency said.

“I heard a loud bang. I thought it was thunder, and then I heard another bang and I saw a fireball not far away from my house," one resident told broadcaster TVBS.

The airline said the plane was piloted by 60-year-old Lee Yi-liang, with 22 years of experience, accumulating nearly 23,000 flight hours.

Lee died in the crash.

“The weather was so terrible and Taiwan was still under the typhoon’s  influence, (the plane) shouldn’t have taken off,” his daughter told FTV cable news channel.

The co-pilot was Chiang Kuan-hsin, 39, with two-and-a-half years' experience.

Taiwan’s civil aviation authorities said the weather on Wednesday had been suitable for flying and they were trying to determine the cause of the crash.

"The weather reports showed it was totally OK for landing. We cannot say for sure what went wrong at this point. The flight safety committee has opened an investigation," said Jean Shen, director of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press