The moment a plane hit a bridge in Taiwan's capital Taipei was captured on camera (still from YouTube).
The moment a plane hit a bridge in Taiwan's capital Taipei was captured on camera (still from YouTube).

FROM TAIPEI: Plane tragedy hits close to home

I WAS sitting in my Taipei flat on Wednesday when I heard the news a plane had gone down in the city's Keelung River.

I - like many - was shocked to see the horrific dashcam footage of the plane hurtling down, clipping its wing and tail on a bridge before disappearing out of sight, into the river below.

The wing also caught the front of a taxi, smashing its bonnet and windshield, although miraculously, the occupants suffered relatively minor injuries.

Two hours later, I was on a train which took me over a bridge nearby the crash scene on my way to work, where I saw the rescue effort in full swing.

In the Taipei Times newsroom, where I work on the copy desk, I was restless as I waited for news to trickle in, bit by bit.

Who was on board? How many had survived? How many were dead? And the big question - what exactly had happened, and why?

While the cause would not be clarified until the black boxes were scrutinised, it was clear the pilots knew there was something wrong as soon as they took off.

Flight tracking information shows that the plane followed the course of the river until, three minutes after take-off, it came down.

Witnesses said it appeared that the pilots had aimed to avoid hitting high-rise buildings populating the area, even turning the plane to clear a gap between two buildings.

The incident has resparked debate about the location of Songshan Airport, and the safety risk it poses being in the centre of the city.

It's like having an airport where the Southbank Parklands are in Brisbane.


In that scenario, the plane would have come down somewhere near Bulimba.

But more widely, it has added to a list of aviation incidents over the past 12 months - including another fatal crash involving the same airline in Taiwan's south in July last year.

It adds to the tragedies involving Malaysia Airlines - flights MH370 and M17 - and the AirAsia crash in the Java Sea just over a month ago.

Of course, people will tell you that statistically, air crashes are still rare. That you are far more likely to be involved in a car crash than a plane crash.

However, it's perceptions that matter. Despite the statistics, I, for one, am becoming an increasingly nervous flyer, as are many people I talk to.

One thing is for sure, these are dark days for the airline industry.


Jenny Munro, formerly of Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast, is a journalist at the Taipei Times.

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