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China Airlines Plane Crashes en Route from Taiwan to Hong Kong - 2002-05-25

The Taiwan government is searching for possible survivors from a China Airlines jet that crashed into the sea en route from Taiwan to Hong Kong.

Prime Minister Yu Shyi-kun in Taiwan reports that rescue services have found some of the wreckage of the plane.

Prime Minister Yun has told reporters that around 6 pm local time, rescuers located several bodies in the water. He said helicopters are taking part in the search for survivors and wreckage of the plane.

China Airlines and Taiwan government authorities say it appears China Airlines Flight 611 crashed into the ocean en route from Taiwan to Hong Kong. The Boeing 747-400, with 225 people aboard, took off about 2:50 pm local time. The plane was reported missing about 45 minutes later, near islands off Taiwan's western coastline.

Government authorities report an oil slick, life preservers and a cabin door have been spotted. There were 206 passengers, including three infants aboard, as well as 19 crew members. Airline officials say most of the passengers were from Taiwan, but several were from mainland China, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Taiwan's Ministry of Transport and Communications said there have been no reports of an explosion or anything unusual about the flight before it disappeared from radar screens.

China Airlines, Taiwan's flagship carrier, had a series of accidents in the 1990s. In the past few years, however, it appeared to have resolved safety problems. The airline's last fatal mishap was in 1999, when a jet flipped over on landing in Hong Kong, killing three people.