Rescue teams in Taiwan are continuing to search for the 12 people who remain unaccounted for after a plane crashed in a river.Thirty-one people are now known to have died when the TransAsia ATR-72 plane came down in Taipei’s Keelung River on Wednesday morning.
Fifteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage, including a two-year-old boy.
Taiwan’s aviation regulator has ordered all operators of ATR planes to conduct “special checks”.
Many of the passengers were Chinese tourists and China will reportedly participate in a probe into the crash.
The death toll was expected to rise as rescue teams searched the river for the missing passengers.
“This morning we have some 60 divers going underwater to search” in addition to 20 boats scouring the river, said Liu Yung-chou, from the national fire agency which is leading the rescue operation.
Aviation authorities in Taiwan said the pilot and co-pilot were among the dead.
The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen.
Dramatic video footage emerged showing the plane clipping a bridge as it came down shortly after take-off.
The final communication from the pilots to air traffic control was “Mayday, mayday, engine flame out”, according to a recording played on local media. The recording was not immediately verified by aviation officials.
The aircraft ended up mostly underwater in the river, broken into several pieces. Rescue teams in dinghies ferried survivors to safety, but many of those on board were trapped inside the sunken wreckage.
Overnight, a crane hauled the half-submerged fuselage from the river.
The Dailyreleased Cindy Sui in Taipei says divers are now looking several kilometres downstream of where the plane crashed for wreckage and bodies but visibility underwater is very poor.
There is very little hope any of the 12 missing people will be found alive, she adds.
Local media reported the story of one escape, however, a man, his wife and their two-year-old son.
Lin Ming-wei was seated next to where the fuselage broke apart, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported. Unhurt, he acted quickly to get out of his seat and help his wife scramble out of the opening.
He found his son in the water and the boy was later resuscitated. Mr Lin’s wife and son are recovering in hospital, CNA reported.
TransAsia is a Taiwan-based carrier that operates domestically and on some international routes from Taiwan. Its director, Peter Chen, said the cause of the accident was unknown.
“Actually this aircraft in the accident was the newest model. It hadn’t been used for even a year,” he said.
The plane’s flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, have been recovered.
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said in a statement that all 22 ATR planes being operated in Taiwan had to undergo a variety of checks including on the engines, fuel control systems and propeller systems.
ATR is a French-Italian manufacturer. Two French aviation investigators and four from ATR are being sent to help Taiwanese authorities with their probe, reports say.
Last year, a TransAsia plane crashed in Penghu in bad weather, killing 48 people. The carrier was also involved in deadly incidents in 1995 and 2002.