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Tuesday, February 17, 1998 Published at 00:08 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Over 200 die in Taiwanese plane crash
image: [ The crash site was covered with flaming debris ]
The crash site was covered with flaming debris

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Taipei (2'00")
A Taiwanese airliner has crashed while trying to land at Taiwan's main international airport, killing all 197 people on board. Up to nine people, including a 2-month-old baby, were also killed on the ground.

[ image: The plane completely demolished several buildings ...]
The plane completely demolished several buildings ...
The China Airlines Airbus 300 burst into flames and some of the wreckage ploughed into a row of houses. Some were completely demolished and many more were engulfed in flames.

Rescue teams rushing to the scene were faced with an inferno. The plane and the surrounding area were covered in flaming debris.

Wreckage was scattered over a wide area. Only a few sections of the plane were recognisable.

[ image: ... many more were in flames]
... many more were in flames
After two hours of searching, rescuers reported finding a single survivor in the wreckage, but he died later in hospital.

The aircraft, belonging to the state airline, China Airlines, was bringing holidaymakers home from the Indonesian island of Bali.

[ image: Wreckage was strewn over a wide area]
Wreckage was strewn over a wide area
Among the 197 passengers and crew on board were several financial officials, including the governor of Taiwan's central bank, Shu Yuang-tung. There were also four American passengers.

Witnesses said the plane hit the ground several hundred metres short of the runway at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek international airport.

[ image:  ]
Local officials say the pilot had failed in his first attempt to land and had asked for a second landing.

The cause of the accident is not yet known. There was a heavy fog and light rain around the airport at the time, but flames from the wreckage could be seen several miles away. A civil aviation official said visibility was adequate for a landing.

Second crash in four years

[ image: The Airbus 300 has a good safety record]
The Airbus 300 has a good safety record
It was the worst accident at Taipei's international airport, and another major setback for China Airlines following the crash of one of its passenger jets in Japan in 1994 in which more than 260 people were killed.

The BBC aviation correspondent says the A300 has a good safety record. The plane was one of 16 operated by China Airlines.

Airbus Industrie which made the plane, based in Toulouse, France, said it had been delivered to China Airlines in December 1990.

The airline has had four other crashes since 1986, with a total of 72 dead.


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