Taiwan prosecutors probe train crash that killed 51

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 4, 2021

Salvage teams began removing mangled train carriages on Saturday (April 3) after Taiwan's worst rail disaster in decades killed at least 50 people, as flags flew half-mast across an island plunged into mourning.

Forty-eight people were killed on Friday in a deadly train derailment in Taiwan's Hualien county, authorities said, adding the track on which the fatal accident occurred will take seven days to fix. The site's manager is suspected of having failed to properly engage the truck's brake.

Taiwanese authorities are questioning a man whose parked truck slid down an embankment at a construction site beside the entrance of a train tunnel, causing a train to derail.

The train, with nearly 500 people aboard, was traveling from Taipei, the capital, to Taitung on the east coast when it derailed in a tunnel just north of the city of Hualien. With much of the train stuck inside the tunnel, some survivors were forced to climb out of windows and walk along the train's roof to safety.

Taiwan's National Fire Agency confirmed the current death toll of 51 from the incident, which included the train's young driver, who was just recently married, according to CBS News.

"I am also in charge of minimising the damage caused by the entire accident".

Lee had been released on bail, though the high court's Hualien branch on Sunday rescinded that decision after the prosecutors appealed it, sending the case back to the lower court.

China is also monitoring the rescue operation of the train collision "with a strong concern", Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council was quoted by local media. "I came to Hualien today to visit the injured and express my condolences to the deceased passengers' families", Tsai said. "We will surely help them in the aftermath".

The families of the victims cry as they mourn near Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Taiwan.

Speaking at the crash site overlooking the ocean and backed by precipitous mountains, Lin Chia-lung said he would "not avoid" responsibility.

Workers removed the two rearmost cars from the tracks Saturday morning.

The train had been travelling from the capital Taipei to Taitung and was entering the tunnel north of Hualien when the crash happened.

A rescue worker guides others as they remove a part of the derailed train.

Deputy transport minister Wang Kwo-tsai said late on Saturday the railway administration needed to take hard look at all these issues, adding that his personal feeling was that "initially it looks like negligence" on the part of the building site contractor.

Survivors reported that the train driver was honking his horn shortly before the crash but did not - or was unable to - slow down before striking the truck.

The derailment occurred on the first day of a four-day break for Taiwan's annual tomb-sweeping tradition, dpa news agency reported.

Taiwan is a mountainous island, and most of its 24 million people live in the flatlands along the northern and western coasts that are home to most of the island's farmland, biggest cities and high-tech industries.

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