TransAsia ATR 72-600 death toll is a sign of God’s love, miracles and destiny
When a passenger plane crashes anywhere in the world the news is delivered in facts: flight number; number of passengers; the dead; the survivors; and departure time.
Soon after the talk turns to the black box flight recorder. Will it tell us what really happened?
And so it is for TransAsia ATR 72-600, which yesterday crashed shortly after take-off from Songshan airport in northern Taipei, striking an elevated road as it banked sidelong towards the Keelung River.
It was captured on camera.
So much for the facts. What about the stories?
The Toronto Sun makes it sound like a moment of childlike joy:
At least 23 dead as Taiwan plane cartwheels into river after take-off 134
A cartwheel, like happy children perform in the playground?
The Daily Mirror leads with the accident.
The paper see the grace of God in the debris and the dead. It sees a miracle. The taxi driver motoring along a clear road is not the victim of a freak moment of chance. He is not now a nervous wreck. He is not desperately unlucky. He is the miraculous survivor. He is a sign of God’s love.
The Guardian looks for a hero.
Taiwan air crash pilot hailed a hero for steering doomed flight away from skyscrapers
The Telegraph spots more than one:
Pilots of crashed TransAsia flight hailed as heroes
So much for the miracle. This was human intervention.
Liao Jiangzhong and Liu Zizhong, the pilot and his co-pilot, both died.
The Telegraph hears the men praised:
“They did their best to stop the flight crashing into buildings,” said Wang Shangzhi, a commentator in China, from where 31 of the passengers came.
“They decided to let the plane crashed into the river, which was extremely brave,” Mr Wang added, according to the Apple Daily newspaper. “We should pray for them sincerely.”
The Guardian writes:
“Based on the flight path, the pilot deviated and tried to avoid obstacles. The pilot apparently made a conscious effort to avoid further and unnecessary casualties by ditching in the river. It was a very courageous move,” Hong Kong-based aviation analyst Daniel Tsang told AFP.
Apparently. But we don’t know what happened.
“I believe the pilot managed to steer the plane away from high-rise buildings, he is a hero,” Gin Oy, a writer and actress, said on her Facebook page.
From hard facts the story turns intone of belief. And then the miracles return:
Tales of miracle escapes emerged, as television footage showed a father cuddling his toddler son as they were taken to shore by boat after being rescued Wednesday.
Together with the child’s mother, the family had switched seats on the plane “out of a hunch” that saved their lives, the United Daily News said.
Did anyone else make a switch that worked out less well? Were they not party to the miracles?
“The family originally sat in the heavily damaged left side but Lin Ming-wei felt uneasy after he heard noises before taking-off and requested to switch seats,” the report quoted Dai Bi-chin, a friend of the family, as saying after visiting them in hospital.
The Telegraph adds to the notions of destiny:
Wang Qinghuo, a Chinese tour guide, had been due to wed this weekend. But while friends celebrated after initial reports suggested he had survived, Xinhua, China’s official news agency, later confirmed he was among the dead.
“I told him that… he should be at home preparing for the wedding. He responded that it was work and that his agency didn’t have anyone else who could go,” Shi Libo, a 28-year-old school friend, told The Telegraph.
Moments before the plane took off, Mr Wang sent friends what would be his final message, via the WeChat messaging service. “Today is the beginning of Spring,” it said. “Let’s not fight, let’s not be angry. Let’s just enjoy this day, peacefully and happily.”
The message between lovers becomes an epitaph of hope and love.
And so the story of death and destruction becomes one of spirituality, love and heroic acts.
Such are the facts…