Missing Taiwan plane found, three missing

Updated: 2012-09-01 18:00


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TAIPEI - An aerial surveying plane that lost contact with air traffic controllers two days ago was found Saturday in Taiwan's eastern mountains, but the three passengers on board remain missing.

Taiwan's aviation authorities said the small jet-propeller plane landed on top of trees and bushes in eastern Hualien County and the aircraft was largely intact, but rescuers found no sign of the two pilots and a survey technician who had been on board.

A rescue team using another aerial surveying plane spotted the missing aircraft on Saturday morning in an area some 30 km west of Yuli Township.

Other rescuers are planning to take a helicopter to reach the scene.

According to Dapeng Airlines, which owned the missing plane, a photo of the scene appears to show that the plane, with no signs of impact, had made an emergency landing, and it is hoped that the missing passengers will be found alive.

The fixed-wing plane took off from Taipei for southeastern Taitung City on Thursday morning, according to Taiwan's aviation authorities.

It conducted a survey in eastern Yilan and Hualien counties and was expected to land in Taitung. But it went missing after sending out a distress call in an area between Hualien and Taitung.

Online materials indicate Dapeng Airlines has at least two small jet-propeller planes and one of them was bought 20 years ago.

Many areas of Taiwan were still under the influence of Typhoon Tembin on Thursday.

Weather forecasts showed that thunderstorms were expected in some parts of Hualien, Taitung and Nantou counties.

It usually takes years to determine the real cause of a plane crash. It is still too early to say whether the accident is linked to technical failure or bad weather.