Update as of 4:27 a.m. EST: Taiwan’s Central News Agency said that the Civil Aeronautics Administration put the death toll from the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight GE 235 at 31, until 10:25 a.m. local time (9:25 p.m. EST). The agency, however, had reported earlier on Thursday that the death toll from the plane crash stood at 32. The report had also said that the latest body to be recovered was found inside the cabin, which was retrieved from the Keelung River where the plane crashed Wednesday.
The death toll from TransAsia Flight GE 235 crash increased to 32 on Thursday, a day after the plane went down into the Keelung River near Taipei, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) said, citing officials. On Thursday, Taiwan's aviation regulator also ordered the operators of ATR planes to conduct “special checks” on their aircraft, following the crash, which involved an ATR 72-600 model, Reuters reported.
The bodies of pilot Liao Chien-tsung, co-pilot Tzu-chung and flight engineer Hung Ping-chung were retrieved from the water, CNA reported. Officials reportedly said the number of casualties could rise as 11 people were still missing. Ten Taipei fire agency divers were looking for more bodies, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Fifteen people were injured in the crash.
Taipei's administration and TransAsia Airways reportedly declined to speculate on the cause of the accident.
One of the plane's pilots reportedly relayed the message, “Mayday, mayday, engine flameout,” just minutes after the plane took off from Taipei Songshan Airport for Kinmen islands off the coast of southeastern China, with 58 people on board.
The crash was the second deadly accident for the airline in seven months and the fourth fatal crash involving the carrier’s ATR-72 aircraft since 1995.
The “special checks” on the ATR aircraft will focus on engines, fuel control systems, propeller systems, and spark plugs and ignition connectors in the turboprop planes, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). However, the regulator did not order grounding Taiwan’s 22 ATR aircraft.
A spokesperson for Uni Air, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based EVA Airways Corp., which reportedly operates 12 ATR 72-600s, said that the company is “conducting the checks, but we have not grounded the aircraft," Reuters reported.
The CAA said that the GE 235 plane was on its third flight for the day and had not reported any malfunction in the previous two journeys. The plane’s engines had been replaced in April last year at Macau airport "due to engine-related technical issues," Reuters reported, citing a statement from Macau's Civil Aviation Authority.
TransAsia reportedly has 10 remaining ATR turboprop aircraft and the planes that completed the checks had resumed operations on Thursday.