A Singapore Airlines 747, bound for Los Angeles from Taiwan with 179 people on board, apparently hit an object on the runway while taking off in a fierce windstorm and burst into flames killing a reported 78 people. 47 Americans were on board the flight.
According to officials in Taipei a further 85 people were hospitalized, and remarkably 16 escaped injury. The plane broke into three sections, and caught fire almost immediately after colliding with an object on the runway. A Singapore Airlines spokesman told the BBC it was possibly a tire from another plane or an airport vehicle.
Typhoon winds and heavy rains were severely affecting incoming air traffic at the time of the crash, but airport officials said it was unlikely that the heavy weather was the proximate cause of the crash, nevertheless they did note that visibility was greatly reduced.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash and are searching for the flight data recorders.
Singapore Airlines has an extremely good safety record; this is the first time one of its planes has been in an accident, although one of its subsidiaries, Silk Air, crashed in Indonesia in 1997, killing all aboard.
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