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No Fatalities as LA-Bound Jet Crashes in Taiwan
TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 bound for Los Angeles crashed on takeoff in Taipei during a typhoon Tuesday but there were no fatalities, an airline spokesman said.
There were 159 passengers and 20 crew aboard flight SQ006, Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration deputy director Chang Kuo-cheng told reporters.
A Taiwan transport minister said more than 20 people had been rushed to hospital.
The airline spokesman in Los Angeles said there were no fatalities. SIA in Singapore said it could not confirm that.
``The plane burst into flames and exploded shortly after takeoff,'' Wu Pi-chang, section chief with the national police administration, told reporters. The SIA Boeing 747-400 was taking off at 11:18 p.m. during a storm and hit by strong winds when it crashed. Windshear was a possible cause, officials said.
There were conflicting reports that the doomed jetliner hit two other empty planes on the tarmac, including one belonging to China Airlines, according to one police official.
This could not be immediately confirmed.
A Taiwan vice minister of the interior said no one was on board the two planes nearby.
Fire engines, ambulances and emergency crews in yellow rain gear were combing the scene, dousing the wreckage and rushing the injured to hospital.
Chiang Kai-shek International Airport had been shut down, and all flights in and out canceled, officials said.
No other details were immediately available.
It was the first major crash in Taiwan since 1998. In February that year, 202 people were killed when a China Airlines Airbus A300-600R crashed in the island's worst aviation disaster.
Tuesday's accident took place as a typhoon was approaching the island. The Taiwan Central Weather Bureau had issued a storm warning. Typhoon Xangsane, packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts of up to 103 mph, brought steady rain to Taiwan over the weekend.
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