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Thu, Jun 22, 2006

Meteorologists Indicted In Taiwanese Accident

Failed To Warn Of Bad Weather

When the weather's bad... who do you blame? The weatherman? That's apparently the case in Taiwan... where five meteorologists for the Civil Aeronautics Administration have been indicted for failing to issue warnings just before a cargo plane crashed in the Taiwan Strait in December 2002.

Authorities say the TransAsia Airways ATR-72 (file photo of type, right) ran into severe icing conditions and crashed -- because the five meteorologists failed to issue a SIGMET for traffic over the Strait.

Prosecutors say that failure left the TransAsia crew unaware of dangerous conditions.

Investigators say SIGMETs, or "SIGnificant METeorological information" alerts, had been issued by authorities in Hong Kong and Japan for aircraft in the Taiwan Strait -- but meteorologists at the CAA had not followed suit.

The flight crashed into the water less than an hour after taking off from Chang Kai-Chek International Airport, headed for Macau. Both pilots on board were killed.

Investigators assigned by the prosecution found the accident was caused by icing along the plane's wings and control surfaces, which led to a loss of control.

FMI: www.caa.gov.tw/en/index.asp

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