Seven crashes, 900 lives: Taiwan's fatal air crashes in the past 20 years

Search and rescue team members operate on a TransAsia Airways passenger plane which crashed into the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan on Feb 4, 2015, shortly after taking off from the Taipei Songshan Airport for Kinmen Island. -- PHOTO: EPA
Search and rescue team members operate on a TransAsia Airways passenger plane which crashed into the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan on Feb 4, 2015, shortly after taking off from the Taipei Songshan Airport for Kinmen Island. -- PHOTO: EPA

At least seven major air accidents involving Taiwanese carriers or occurring on Taiwan soil have been recorded in the past 20 years, with the loss of some 900 lives. Here's the list:

Oct 26, 1989: Flight 204 of the government-linked China Airlines crashed into a mountain shortly after takeoff from the eastern county of Hualien for Songshan in Taipei. All 54 passengers and crew on board were killed.

April 26, 1994: China Airlines Flight 140 from Taipei to Nagoya crashed during a landing attempt at Nagoya airport. All 15 crew members as well as 249 passengers were killed. Seven passengers were seriously injured. The accident was blamed on pilot error.

Feb 16, 1998: China Airlines Flight 676 on the way back from Bali crashed in Taoyuan city while approaching Taoyuan international airport amid rain and fog. All 196 on board, along with seven people on the ground, were killed.

Oct 31, 2000: Singapore Airlines flight 006 bound for Los Angeles crashed into construction equipment on a closed runway during takeoff, after the pilots took the wrong turn amid stormy weather. The plane crashed back to ground and broke into pieces, killing 83 of the 179 on board.

May 25, 2002: China Airlines flight 611 from Taipei to Hong Kong disintegrated in mid-air and crashed into the Taiwan Strait near Taiwan's Penghu archipelego, killing all 225 on board. The break up of the Boeing 747-209B was blamed on ineffective repairs to the aircraft 22 years earlier.

July 23, 2014: Flight 222 operated by the privately-owned TransAsia Airways from Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung to Penghu crashed on approach to Penghu in stormy weather. The pilots apparently could not locate the runway because of poor visibility. Of the 58 people on board, 48 people including two French nationals perished.

Feb 4, 2015: TransAsia Airways flight 235 crashed into a river at the intersection of Taipei and New Taipei City two minutes after departing from Songshan airport in Taipei. At least 23 have been confirmed killed. Investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg