Plane with 3 on board missing in Taiwan

Updated: 2012-08-30 16:15


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TAIPEI - A plane that was taking an aerial survey in eastern Taiwan was missing on Thursday, local authorities said.

There were three people on board and a search and rescue operation was prepared in the mountain areas near Hualien county.

The fixed-wing plane, belonging to a local aerial surveying company, took off at 7:25 am from Taipei to Taitung city, according to the island'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.

The BN-2 jet-propeller plane had two pilots and a surveying technician on board. The authorities said it was too early to say whether the plane crashed or made an emergency landing.

The Fire Department of Hualien county scrambled a six-member search and rescue team immediately after learning about the accident. They planned to travel from a town in Hualien on a military helicopter to the mountain areas where they thought the plane might have gone missing.

Authorities added that the plane might have gone missing in a region near Hualien, Taitung and Nantou counties, but the exact location was still unclear.

The company that owns the missing plane is involved in aerial surveying business. Online materials indicate it has just two small jet-propeller planes. At least 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.