TAIPEI — A Taiwanese flight with 58 people turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and careened into a river Wednesday shortly after takeoff from the island's capital of Taipei, killing at least 15 people, local media and officials said.
The death toll in the TransAsia Airways flight was expected to rise as rescue crews cleared the mostly sunken fuselage in the Keelung River a couple dozen meters (yards) from the shore. Teams of rescuers in rubber rafts clustered around the wreckage.
Parts of the wrecked fuselage of the turboprop ATR 72 jutted out of the shallow Keelung River just a couple dozen meters (yards) from the shore near the city's downtown Sungshan airport.
Rescuers clustered around the plane in rubber boats.
Taiwan's civil aviation authority said 15 people were killed out of 28 pulled from the fuselage and that 30 people were still missing.
CNA said the flight from Taipei to the outlying island of Kinmen lost contact with flight controllers at 10:55 a.m. and the fuselage landed in the Keelung River near the city's downtown Sungshan airport.
Wu Jun-hong, a Taipei Fire Department official who was coordinating the rescue, said the missing people were still in the fuselage or had been pulled downriver, he said.
"At the moment, things don't look too optimistic," Wu told reporters at the scene. "Those in the front of the plane are likely to have lost their lives."
Rescuers were pulling luggage from an open plane door to clear the fuselage, and Wu said they planned to build a pontoon bridge to facilitate those efforts.
The plane's wing also hit a taxi, the driver of which was injured, on the freeway just before it crashed into the river, Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said it had sent 165 people and eight boats to the riverside rescue scene, joining fire department rescue crews.
A TransAsia media office declined comment on possible reasons for the crash, deferring to a conference scheduled for later on Wednesday. Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration also was also unable to discuss possible causes of the crash.
It was the second of TransAsia's French-made ATR 72 to crash in the past year. Last July, a flight crashed while attempting to land on the island of Penghu off Taiwan's coast, killing 48 people and injuring another 10. Stormy weather and low visibility were suspected as factors in that crash.