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 airline said early Thursday that at least 48 of the 58 people on board had died. The Penghu fire department said all bodies and remains had been sent to hospitals or a morgue.

The fire department said 10 passengers and a local resident were sent to the hospital for burn injuries.

Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih said two of the passengers are French nationals.

The government said it suspected technical failure could be a factor in the crash, but bad weather may have also contributed.

"We believe we have found one of two black boxes," the transportation minister said.

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

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.

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 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.

The type of aircraft that crashed 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.