A Guardian Angel Premonition Life-Saving Switch from GE235 Death Seats

Divers describe grisly scene in the submerged wreckage of flight GE235

An uncanny premonition saved the life of TransAsia Airways passenger Chen Ming-chung.

The 50-year-old property broker – one of 15 people rescued from flight GE235 on Wednesday – had an “uneasy feeling” before he boarded the plane and insisted that he change seats.

Chen’s wife, Shih Chiu-mei, said he told her that he switched seats to the right-hand side of the ATR72-600 propeller aircraft. It was a move that saved his life.

His original seat was on the side to first hit the water when the plane banked and crashed into Taipei’s muddy Keelung River, killing at least 31 people.

“His life was really saved because of that,” Shih said yesterday at the Taipei hospital where her husband was being treated for a broken arm.

The aircraft left Taipei Songshan Airport at 10.52am on Wednesday bound for Taiwan’s former defence outpost of Quemoy. It crash four minutes later.

“My husband saw a stewardess thrown to the ceiling of the cabin while strapped in her seat, and there was constant screaming,” Shih said.

“Some passengers were hit by debris while the bodies of others were pierced by sharp metal. It was like a bloodbath in a movie.”

Shih said her husband told her that after the crash the left side of the plane was filled with muddy water and a crack had opened in the tail, letting in light.

Watch: The moment a TransAsia plane hits bridge and crashes in Taiwan


“Some passengers started to shout, ‘Quickly climb towards the crack’ as water flowed in,” she quoted her husband as saying.

She said Chen could not unlock his seatbelt to scramble to safety, but he shouted for help and a man came to his aid.

“My husband said he must find that man and thank him personally,” she said, adding that she had read in reports that retired physician Huang Chin-shun, 71, had helped free others from their seatbelts and reach safety.

The Taipei Fire Department said the plane broke into three sections, with the overturned tail and fuselage half-submerged in the water and the nose buried three metres into the river’s mud.

Rescuers said they faced a major struggle yesterday as they continued their search for survivors and bodies. Twelve of the 58 passengers and crew are missing.

Divers search waters near the crash site yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Rescuers said visibility in the river was almost zero and they had to feel their way through the wreckage. They also described the horror of the scene inside the crashed plane.

Chen Po-yung, one of the divers sent to look for survivors on Wednesday, said it was very dark inside the cabin but what he saw was like a killing field, with some of the passengers upside down, still strapped in their seats.

“Even with the torch light, I could only see dimly the inside of the cabin because it was filled with fallen objects,” Chen said.

“I tried to reach out to one passenger only to find that I had pulled out an arm.”

An aviation official yesterday confirmed the authenticity of a recording of one of the pilots of the stricken aircraft saying, “Mayday, mayday, engine flameout” moments before the plane crashed.

TransAsia said it would offer NT$1.2 million (HK$295,000) in “consolation money” to the family of each person killed and NT$200,000 to each person injured in the crash.