TAIPEI, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan's rescuers said Sunday that three people aboard an aerial surveying plane that went missing three days ago in eastern mountain areas were finally found, but preliminary examinations showed they had no signs of life.
The news will certainly bring devastation to excruciated relatives who were told just Saturday that the plane was found largely intact and the passengers might have chances of survival.
The fixed-wing plane took off from Taipei for southeastern Taitung City on Thursday morning, according to Taiwan's aviation authorities.
It conducted a survey in eastern Yilan and Hualien counties and was expected to land in Taitung. But it went missing after sending out a distress call in an area between Hualien and Taitung.
A rescue team using another aerial surveying plane spotted the missing aircraft on Saturday morning in an area some 30 km west of Yuli Township in Hualien County.
The small jet-propeller plane landed on top of trees and bushes and the aircraft was largely intact, but rescuers found no signs of the two pilots and a survey technician who had been on board.
Dapeng Airlines, which owned the missing plane, said Saturday that a photo of the scene appeared to show that the plane, with no signs of impact, had made an emergency landing, and it was hoped that the missing passengers will be found alive.
Online materials indicate Dapeng Airlines has at least two small jet-propeller planes and one of them was bought 20 years ago.
Many areas of Taiwan were still under the influence of Typhoon Tembin on Thursday when the plane went missing. Weather forecasts showed that thunderstorms were expected in some parts of Hualien, Taitung and Nantou counties.
It usually takes years to determine the real cause of a plane crash. It is still too early to say whether the accident is linked to technical failure or bad weather.