After a week of deadly plane crashes that killed 298 people on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and 116 passengers on Air Algerie Flight 5017, the TransAsia Airways Flight 222 disaster in Taiwan Wednesday was different -- it had survivors. Although 48 people died during GE222’s failed landing attempt on the resort island of Penghu, 10 passengers managed to get out alive, using cell phones to communicate with loved ones soon afterward.
One woman, Hung Yu-ting, 34, managed to crawl out of the wreckage and get in touch with her family within minutes of the crash.
“She called me on the phone to say the plane had crashed and exploded, but that she had already crawled out and I should come right away to get her,” her father Hung Chang-ming, who lives just a few hundred yards from the crash site, told the Associated Press. Although she was gone by the time he got there, he helped others put out fires and save other survivors.
“My daughter called me,” the mother of a different survivor said, according to Agence France-Presse. “She said, ‘Mum, my plane crashed.’ She said she climbed out and borrowed a phone from others.”
One local resident, Avi Putri, heard the crash and soon saw flames about 100 feet away. At first, she thought it was an electrical fire, until four Taiwanese passengers knocked on her door asking to use a phone, Bloomberg News reported.
GE222, an ATR-72 turboprop carrying 54 passengers and four crew members, left the Taiwanese southern city of Kaohsiung almost two hours late, delayed due to bad weather associated with Typhoon Matmo. Although the storm had reportedly gone out to sea by the time the plane reached the airport on Penghu, its pilots requested a second approach when landing, according to Taiwanese aviation authorities cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Soon afterward, the plane crashed in a village near the airport’s runway, destroying some houses and catching fire. One local resident told the Apple Daily newspaper he heard a loud crash and soon realized the plane had crashed next to his home, damaging it. Within minutes, he smelled gasoline and saw survivors with blood on their faces.
All four crew members and 44 passengers died in the crash.
TransAsia Airways said it would compensate each survivor with $6,670 (200,000 Taiwan dollars) and send $33,000 (1 million Taiwan dollars) to families of each victim.