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Volatile weather a way of life for residents at Taiwan plane crash site

Volatile weather patterns which downed TransAsia Flight GE222 are a way of life for residents in Taiwan's Penghu Island, where strong monsoon winds can last for up to six months every year.

PENGHU: Residents in Taiwan's Penghu Island are still recovering and coping with the crash of TransAsia Flight GE222. Forty-eight of the 58 people on board the flight were killed when it crashed onto the island on Wednesday.

The plane had been trying to land in torrential rain following Typhoon Matmo, but such volatile weather patterns are a way of life for the residents in Penghu.

It has been five days since GE222 crash landed on their homes here on Penghu, but the sound of a flying plane still makes some Xixi villagers nervous. All the wreckage has been removed, but not the fear.

"All the villagers say it's the Chinese god at our temple that had protected local residents as the plane crashed into empty old houses. The homes here are very close to each other. If it crashed into those houses with residents, the damage would have been more severe," said Chiu Hao Kai, a local villager.

It is the latest of six air incidents near the waters of Penghu Islands in the past 16 years.

Many blamed poor weather conditions for the crash, but battling with bad weather is part of life for Penghu residents. Aside from storms, people here have to endure strong monsoon winds that last six months every year. Trees in Penghu are all leaning to one side as a result of such weather.

"The strong winds start in November. Travelling in and out of Penghu will depend on the weather. Once, I was flying back in December, the winds were so strong that they made the landing very volatile. I was really nervous," said Mr Chiu.

The plane crash and weather systems in Penghu are set to not only affect traveling, but also the livelihood of local residents, especially when tourism has been the biggest source of income for the island.

"In the summer, I can earn more than NT$3000 (US$100) a day, but for winter, it's NT$1000 (US$33) a day. It's a big difference," said Hsu Fu Hsiao, a Penghu taxi driver.

For these local residents, life may be returning back to normal after the accident. But the struggle with the weather will continue to be a challenge.

Many residents in Penghu are resigned that they're at the mercy of the weather. And it seems that the best they can do is to pray for divine protection to keep them safe and stave off accidents like this. 

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