Taiwan's TransAsia Airways offers record compensation of $621k to victims of plane crash

Taiwan's TransAsia Airways offers record compensation of $621k to victims of plane crash
Relatives of passengers on board the crashed Transasia Airways plane prepare for a Daoist ceremony on the Taiwan's offshore island Penghu, on July 24, 2014.

TAIPEI - Taiwan's TransAsia Airways said on Monday it had offered record compensation to the families of each passenger killed in a domestic flight even though the cause of the crash is still unclear.

The offer of TW$14.9 million (S$621,000) was made to representatives of the 48 victims attending talks at Magong on Penghu island. The victims' representatives did not accept the offer on the spot but agreed to give it further consideration, according to an airline statement.

"As the owner of the plane, we'd like to take responsibility for the deaths and injuries... even though the responsibility for the accident has yet to be clarified," said TransAsia Airways president Chooi Yee-chong. The airline said the compensation would be a record for Taiwan.

Flight GE222 carrying 54 passengers and four crew crashed last month near the airport in Penghu, a scenic island group in the Taiwan Strait. The crash into houses after an aborted landing - the island's worst air disaster in a decade - also left 10 injured, some of them badly. Two French nationals were among the dead.

The ATR 72-500 propeller plane was making a second attempt to land after aborting the first during thunder and heavy rain as Typhoon Matmo pounded Taiwan. Five people on the ground were injured in the crash.

Angry relatives have blamed the authorities for the disaster, questioning why the plane was cleared to fly in bad weather.

Taiwanese officials have defended the decision to allow the flight to go ahead. Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih has said weather data showed that aviation safety requirements were met when the plane was cleared to fly.

But the airline has now imposed stricter weather requirements for domestic flights.

Examination of the plane's two black boxes - which record cockpit voices and other in-flight data - showed that it had veered off course while descending before colliding with trees and houses.

The Aviation Safety Council, which oversees the investigation, expects to complete its final report before the end of 2015.

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