3 more TranAsia passengers recovered from Taiwan river

BEIJING – Relatives of the victims of a TranAsia flight that crashed into a river in Taiwan’s capital Taipei held a memorial ceremony near the rescue site Saturday as the death toll rose to 38.

Pictures on the website of Chinese state news agency Xinhua showed relatives wearing face masks and disposable galoshes accompanied by a Buddhist monk.  

Three more bodies were recovered from the Keelung river Saturday, bringing the death toll to 38 with five people remaining unaccounted for as of midday on the search’s fourth day, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

Of the 53 passengers and five crewmembers on board TransAsia Airways Flight 235, 15 have been rescued.

Lin Wan-fa, a Taipei city government deputy secretary-general serving as on-site commander, said search efforts would intensify throughout the day due to an improvement in weather conditions.

"We will not give up any opportunity," the agency quoted Lin as saying.

Hundreds of rescue workers including firefighters and around 130 divers were involved in the efforts, which had been hampered in previous days due to poor visibility in murky water conditions and the river’s low temperature.

On Friday, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council revealed that data from the two black boxes retrieved from the ATR72-600 aircraft indicated that both of its engines had lost power before it crashed into the Keelung river Wednesday.

Wang Hsing-chung, the agency’s managing director, told reporters that a warning for one engine had went off, before power to the other one was shut off and turned back on less than a minute later.

Wang did not elaborate on why the remaining engine had been turned off after the alarm.

The data indicated that the plane flew for just three minutes and 23 seconds after receiving clearance from Songshan Airport at around 10.52 a.m. (0252GMT) Wednesday en route to the Kinmen islands, off China’s southeast coast.

As part of investigations, the Aviation Safety Council has invited accident investigators from China’s mainland while a cross-strait emergency response mechanism has been put into force.

Among the passengers, 31 were residents of the Chinese mainland on tours organized by two travel agencies in southeaster Fujian province, according to Taiwan’s tourism authority. Their family members and travel agency staff have been traveling to Taiwan since the accident.

The missing victims were among these tourists, according to Xinhua.

A record of communications between the cockpit of the ill-fated ATR-72 plane and the control tower revealed the pilot had called out "mayday" three times prior to the crash.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency