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TransAsia Airways crash: Death toll rises to 12

The plane, with 58 people on board, clipped a highway bridge before crash landing into a river.

Rescue personnel work to free passengers from a TransAsia ATR 72-600 turboprop plane that crash-landed into a river outside Taiwan's capital Taipei in New Taipei City on February 4, 2015. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Rescuers have now cut open the side of a fuselage in a desperate bid to free several people still trapped inside a TransAsia Airways plane.

Twelve people have been confirmed dead after the aircraft rolled over a highway before plunging into a Taipei river in Taiwan this morning.

More than 30 people are still unaccounted for.

In total, 58 people were on board the plane which was en route to the Kinmen Islands just off the coast of the South-Eastern Chinese city of Xiamen.

Reports say 31 passengers aboard the flight were Chinese tourists.

Earlier, emergency rescue officials in inflatable boats crowded around the partially submerged fuselage lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.

CRASH HISTORY

TransAsia is Taiwan's third-largest carrier. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last year, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.

The plane involved in Wednesday's mishap was among the first of the ATR 72-600s, the latest variant of the turboprop aircraft, that TransAsia received in 2014.

They are among an order of eight placed by TransAsia in 2012. The aircraft have 72 seats each. The planes are mainly used to connect Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to the island's smaller cities.

The airline also operates Airbus A320 and A330 planes on domestic and international services.

Today's crash landing is the latest in a string of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the past year.

An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore crashed soon after taking off from Indonesia last month, killing all 162 people on board.

Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared and one of its sister planes was downed over Ukraine with a combined loss of 539 lives.

Additional reporting by Reuters.