A TransAsia Airway plane carrying 58 people on board crashes outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday while trying to make an emergency landing in stormy weather. WSJ's Aries Poon reports on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: AP

TAIPEI—A TransAsia Airways flight crashed on Wednesday while trying to make its second landing attempt in the Penghu islands off the coast of Taiwan, killing dozens of people.

The Penghu Fire Department said the death toll late Wednesday was at least 42 of the 58 people on board, and all bodies and remains had been sent to hospitals or a nearby morgue. The final death toll will be announced after the bodies have been properly identified.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.The government said it suspected technical failure could be a factor in the crash, but bad weather may have also contributed. The fire department said 10 passengers and a local resident were sent to the hospital for burn injuries.

More than 300 rescue workers, including military personnel and local firefighters, were dispatched to the crash site.

Rescuers survey wreckage of TransAsia Airways plane on the Taiwan island of Penghu on Wednesday. The flight had been delayed by weather. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Flight 222 was heading from the southern city of Kaohsiung to the Penghu islands, halfway between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait.

Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih said two of the passengers are French nationals. "We believe we have found one of two black boxes," the minister added.

According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the aircraft was an ATR-72-500 short-haul regional airliner and had been in commission for 14 years. The flight was scheduled to take off at 4 p.m. local time but was asked to stay on the ground until 5:43 p.m. because of bad weather from tropical storm Matmo.

The aircraft was unable to land properly at Penghu's Magong Airport, the CAA said. After circling for a while, it was forced to make an emergency landing.

CAA Director-General Jean Shen said the last communication the aircraft had with the tower was at 7:06 p.m., when the pilot told the tower he would make a second landing attempt. The agency said data indicate the plane probably crashed in the village of Xixi after ascending approximately 300 feet.

TransAsia said bad weather forced the plane to make the emergency landing. Taiwan was battered by Matmo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Company General Manager Chooi Yee-choong said the airline will do everything it can to help the victims' family members. There was to a charter flight early Thursday for family members from Kaohsiung to Magong Airport. "We will fully cooperate with the CAA and the transportation ministry with the investigation," said Mr. Chooi.

TransAsia Airways had seven accidents from 2002 to 2012, five of them involving the ATR-72, according to the website of Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council. Only the December 2002 accident resulted in the loss of life.

Based in Taipei, TransAsia Airways is smaller than Taiwanese carriers China Airlines Ltd. and Eva Airways. It flies mostly domestic routes, but also has some international flights to destinations in mainland China as well as northeast and southeast Asia.

The carrier last year received approval from the CAA to set up a low-cost airline operating flights within a five-hour distance of Taiwan.

The type of aircraft that crashed on Wednesday is a "highly stable" plane able to land and take off on short runways, according to Mark Martin of Martin Consulting, an aviation advisory firm.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration Director Jean Sheng speaks to media at the Sungshan airport in Taipei on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The Penghu islands area has seen deadly crashes before. The worst was a Boeing 747 jet operated by Taiwan's flag carrier, China Airlines, which broke apart in midair in May 2002 about 20 minutes into its journey from Taipei to Hong Kong and crashed into the sea northwest of Penghu, killing 225 people on board. Investigators said metal fatigue caused the plane to break apart.

In December 2002, a TransAsia ATR-72 cargo flight heading to Macau from Taipei crashed southwest of Penghu, killing the two crew members, on board. An investigation found that accumulation of ice around the plane's major components caused loss of control.

Penghu has for centuries been home to communities that live off fishing. In recent decades, the beaches and marine life have become tourist attractions.

—Joanne Chiu and Gaurav Raghuvanshiin contributed to this article.

Write to Jenny Hsu at jenny.hsu@wsj.com