5 things to know about Penghu, site of Taiwan plane crash

Penghu, a favourite destination for tourists, is the site of Taiwan's deadliest plane crash in 12 years.

A turboprop plane, run by Taiwan-based TransAsia Airways, was heading from Kaohsiung to the island of Makong, but crash-landed in Penghu due to violent weather on July 23. It was carrying 54 passengers and four crew on board. The majority of the passengers on board were Taiwanese. Two were French nationals and one passenger was from Hong Kong. The crash killed a total of 48 people. The crash was the latest in a series of air traffic accidents at the island chain.

Here are five more things you need to know about Penghu:


1. It has experienced 13 airplane accidents, with a total death toll of 350 people to date

The first noted air crash involved a military plane in 1967, according to Chinese website NetEase news (news.163.com). One person died. The worst accident, however, was in 2002 when a China Airlines flight disintegrated in mid-air and crashed into the Taiwan Strait in the vicinity of Penghu, 20 minutes after takeoff. It killed all 225 people on board.

2. It's among the windiest places in the Northern Hemisphere

Winds in Penghu can reach a speed of 90km per hour. The speed falls just under the wind speed necessary for a hurricane warning. The winds can lead to trees being uprooted and buildings visibly damaged.

On the upside, the windy conditions make it an ideal destination for daredevil windsurfers. The winds are so strong, they can be harvested to account for a considerable amount of Penghu's energy consumption. The county's power consumption is about 40,000 watts and the two turbines in the county generate 10,000 watts, accounting for about one-fourth of the island's energy demand.

3. It is a popular tourist destination in summer

Penghu is noted for being a great summer destination. Chosen by Lonely Planet in 2011 as one of its top 10 paradise islands, it boasts many temples and beaches as well as stunning natural landscapes.

In the 1500s, the chain was also once known as the Pescador Islands, which means "Fisherman Islands" in Portuguese. That was because it was a fishing community frequently passed through by Portuguese mariners. True to its nickname, Penghu is famous these days for its marine products including seafood, coral, seashells, and cultivated pearls.

4. Penghu is made up of over 64 small islands.

Covering an area of 141 sq km, the Penghu archipelago is the second smallest county in Taiwan after Lienchiang County.

5. The county became famous after being featured in the hit 1970s song, Grandmother's Penghu Bay.

The song was penned and sung by Taiwanese singer Pan An-pang, whose hometown was Penghu islands. The pop idol died at age 52, in 2013, of kidney cancer.

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