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Taiwan defends flight clearance given to plane before crash

Taiwan defends flight clearance given to plane before crash
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Taiwanese authorities have defended giving flight clearance to an airliner which crashed in stormy weather on Wednesday, killing all but 10 of the 58 passengers and crew.

The black boxes have been recovered from the scene. The twin-engine plane, a 70-seat ATR 72, ploughed into houses in a residential area.

Five people on the ground were injured.

The TransAsia flight crash-landed on Penghu island, a popular tourist destination, near the airport runway after flying from Kaohsiung in southwestern Taiwan.

The families of those on board have been rushing to Magong airport. Two of the dead passengers were French medical students, the rest were Taiwanese.

The leaders of both Taiwan and China – long-time rivals – have expressed condolences.

A man who gave his name as Mr Hong said his daughter was among the few survivors. He said she called him after climbing out of the wreckage and asked him to pick her up.

“Half way there, I could see a large fire. By the time I arrived it was much smaller. I saw two injured people by the roadside… One was my daughter,” he said.

Questions have been raised as to why the plane was allowed to fly soon after Taiwan had been lashed by Typhoon Matmo.

Earlier some 200 flights at Taiwanese airports had been cancelled.

A senior aviation official was quoted as saying that weather reports showed it was “totally ok for landing”, but that nothing was being ruled out pending an investigation.