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Toll In Taiwan Crash Rises To 31; Pilot Called In 'Engine Flameout'

Update, 11:43 p.m. ET

Authorities searching the wreckage of a Taiwanese plane Wednesday raised the death toll in the crash to 31, and say 12 people still are missing.

They also released audio of a distress call made by the plane's pilot shortly before it turned on its side, clipped a highway and sank into a river in Taipei.

In it, The Associated Press reports, the pilot reports an "engine flameout." Such failures can have many different causes, both internal — mechanical failure, a lack of fuel — and external, such as damage caused by foreign objects.

"The plane has a general good reputation for safety and reliability and is known among airlines for being cheap and efficient to use, said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at Flightglobal magazine in Singapore."

Original post:

The toll in the deadly TransAsia crash has risen to at least 25, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration said. Fifteen people were injured and another 18 are still unaccounted for, the agency said.

As we previously reported, Flight 235 was carrying 58 people, 31 of them from China, when it crashed into the shallow Keelung River in Taipei shortly after takeoff on Wednesday. Dramatic video of the crash showed the ATR 72 turboprop plane clipping an elevated roadway with its left wingtip before falling into the river.

The pilot issued a mayday call almost immediately after takeoff, Taiwanese media reported.

The Associated Press adds: "Rescuers in rubber rafts pulled 15 people alive from the wreckage during daylight. After dark, they brought in the crane, and the death toll was expected to rise once crews were able to search through submerged portions of the fuselage, which came to rest a few dozen ... yards from the shore."

The black boxes have been recovered and investigators will being piecing together what caused the plane that belongs to the Taipei-based airline to crash. The weather was normal, the civil aviation body said.

The crash was the second involving a TransAsia ATR 72 aircraft within the past year. A previous plane crashed July 23, 2014, killing 48 people and injuring 10 people.

The AP has more on the aircraft:

"Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at Flightglobal magazine in Singapore, said the ATR 72-600 is the latest iteration of one of the most popular turboprop planes in the world, particularly favored for regional short-hop flights in Asia. It has a generally good reputation for safety and reliability and is known among airlines for being cheap and efficient to operate."

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.