A TransAsia Airways plane with 58 passengers and crew on board cartwheeled into a river shortly after taking off from a downtown Taipei airport on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and leaving about a dozen missing, officials said.
As many as 28 people appeared to have survived the crash after the plane lurched between buildings, clipped an overpass with its port-side wing and crashed upside down in the shallow river.
Dramatic pictures taken by a motorist and posted on Twitter showed the plane cartwheeling over the motorway soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in apparently clear weather on a domestic flight for the island of Kinmen.
"I've never seen anything like this. This is unprecedented," a volunteer rescuer surnamed Chen said of the most recent in a series of disasters to hit Asian carriers in the past 12 months.
Television footage showed survivors wearing life jackets wading and swimming clear of wreckage. Others, including a young child, were taken to shore by rescuers.
Emergency rescue officials in inflatable boats crowded around the partially submerged fuselage of flight GE235, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.
Wu Chun-hong, acting director of the Taipei City Fire Department, told reporters 16 people had been killed. That left 14 still unaccounted for.