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TransAsia Airways Flight GE-235: Taiwanese Celebrities Pray for Families, Victims Of Plane Crash

( [email protected] ) Feb 04, 2015 01:20 PM EST

AirAsia Tragedy
Images captured by locals show the TransAsia passenger plane clipping a bridge as it plunges toward the river. (Photo: MISSXOXO168)

As the death toll of those killed when a TransAsia Airways flight crashed rises to 26, celebrities across Taiwan continue to flood social media with prayers for the victims and their families.

On Wednesday, Flight 235, which had 58 people aboard, most of them travelers from China, banked sharply on its side shortly after takeoff from Taipei, clipped a highway bridge and then plunged into the Keelung River, Taiwan News reports.

While rescue workers were able to save at least 15 people,including a toddler from the wreckage, 18 passengers remain missing, and are feared dead.

The tragedy, which was captured on video by travelers in cars on an elevated highway next to the river, has shaken a region still reeling from previous TransAsia ATR-72 crash, which killed 48 people and injured 15 last July.

Using the hashtag #PrayforTaiwan, hundreds of people, including many celebrities, are taking to social media to encourage the international community to pray for the victims and their families.

"Let us pray for everyone on TransAsia Airways flight GE-235. I hope everyone can be safely rescued and that the injured are safe. I hope they get well soon," pop singer A-mei wrote on her Facebook page.

"God bless!!!" popular artist Jolin Tsai also wrote on her Facebook page.

Actress and singer Barbie Hsu also extended her sympathies, writing, "I hope the casualty numbers will not increase any more! God bless, it's heartaching!" on her social media account.

TransAir Asia Plane Crash in Taiwan
Rescuers carry out rescue operations after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Photograph: Pichi Chuang/Reuters

According to BBC News, the final communication from the pilots to air traffic control before the plane plunged into the river was "Mayday, mayday, engine flame out!" Currently, the majority of the plane, including the front section of the fuselage and the wings, remain underwater. Authorities believe there are still several passengers trapped in the plane.

"At the moment, things don't look too optimistic," Wu Jun-hong, a Taipei fire department official coordinating the rescue effort, told reporters.

"I've never seen anything like this," added a volunteer rescuer surnamed Chen.

Reuters reports that Taiwan has had a poor aviation safety record in recent years, including the disintegration of a China Airlines (2610.TW) 747 on a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong in 2002, killing 225.

Although the exact cause of the crash has not yet been determined, TransAsia chief Chen Xinde has insisted his planes had been "under thorough scrutiny" since mid-2014.

"Both our planes and our flight safety system are following strict regulations, so we also want to know what caused the new plane model to crash, but I don't want to speculate," he said.