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The pilot in TransAsia Airways Flight 235 said "mayday, mayday, engine flameout" moments before the propjet banked sharply and crashed into a river, aviation officials said Thursday.
Video images of the plane's final moments in the air captured on car dashboard cameras do not appear to show any flames as it turned sharply, with its wings going vertical and clipping a highway bridge before plunging into the Keelung River Wednesday, killing at least 31 people. Fifteen people were injured, and the search continued for 12 people still missing.
Taiwan's Civil Aeronautical Administration released a snippet of audio including the pilot's mayday call, and an agency official who declined to be named confirmed the mayday distress call on Thursday but did not say how it might relate to a cause for the crash. The Taipei-based TransAsia Airways plane crashed at about 10:55 a.m. near the capital city's downtown airport. The plane's black box was found overnight. The pilots' bodies have not yet been recovered.
At midday Thursday, about a dozen relatives of Taiwanese victims arrived at the riverbank in the capital to perform traditional mourning rituals. Accompanied by Buddhist monks ringing brass bells, they bowed to the river and held aloft cloth inscriptions tied to pieces of bamboo meant to guide the spirits of the dead to rest.
Police diver Cheng Ying-chih said search and rescue efforts were being hampered by "zero visibility" in the turbid river and cold water temperatures that were forcing divers to work on one-hour shifts.
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