TransAsia meets to discuss compensation with plane crash victims' families

TAIPEI, Taiwan – TransAsia Airways representatives met Sunday with relatives of the victims of last week’s plane crash in Taiwan to discuss compensation after it began distributing money to families of the deceased for funeral costs.

At the river crash site, divers tried to find the bodies of the three people still missing by using metal detectors to locate their watches or seat belts.

At least 40 people died after the propeller-jet crashed into the muddy Keelung River minutes after takeoff Wednesday from Taipei’s airport. Fifteen of the 58 people aboard the plane were rescued.

Preliminary investigations indicate the pilots of the TransAsia Airways ATR 72 shut off a running engine after its other engine went idle, a move that aviation experts said was an error.

The bulk of the passengers were from the Chinese mainland.

A TransAsia spokeswoman, Fang Chia-wen, said a second meeting would be held on Wednesday to discuss compensation matters further. She said the airline had already begun distributing 1.2 million Taiwan dollars ($38,000) per victim to families for funeral expenses.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo told Taiwan’s private Formosa TV on Sunday that the priority was to find the three missing people. Longer-term, he said the country needs to work on improving “our civil aviation in terms of its management and training.”

Huang Han-chung, a member of the underwater search team, also told the station that rescuers were using metal detectors, which had already been used to locate pieces of wreckage.

“Some bodies might have some metal on them, like necklaces, watches and coins, which will be detected,” said Wu Jun-hung, a Taipei city fire department official. “There are still four seats missing, so it’s possible that the victims are still fastened in their seats by seat belt, that they sunk together with the seats to the bottom of the bank.”