A Tzuchiang-class train operating along the South Link Line (南迴鐵路) derailed yesterday after running into a mudslide on the mountain slopes north of the Dawu Tunnel (大武隧道). Fortunately the about 250 passengers on board were not injured.
The train, which left New Zuo-ying (新左營) at 12:25pm yesterday, was traveling toward Hualien. After exiting the Dawu Tunnel in Taitung County at 2:27pm, the driver saw a mound of rubble lying on the tracks and immediately hit the breaks, but the train was unable to stop in time, as it was going at 90kph.
The impact derailed the first car of the train, but damage was not severe because the train had already slowed to 40kph when it hit the rubble, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) officials said.
After TRA personnel arrived on the scene, they decoupled the first two cars and sent passengers back to Dawu station on the four remaining cars, TRA officials said.
Buses were also dispatched to transfer passengers to Lungsi Station, where they were able to continue on their northbound journey.
The Central Emergency Operations Center yesterday said that days of heavy rain around the nation created by a frontal system converging with the southwest monsoon have so far claimed six lives, injured 11 and left two people missing.
Casualties caused by landslides or flooding were recorded in Nantou County and Greater Taichung, as well as in New Taipei City (新北市) and Taoyuan County, the center said in a press release.
About 7,120 people were evacuated from disaster zones or areas at risk of mudslides around the country, it added.
Although the rain has abated, heavy downpours were still forecast for some areas in central and southern Taiwan, with generally unstable weather expected to continue nationwide, the Central Weather Bureau said.
The public still needs to pay attention to the potential danger from rain-triggered disasters, such as road collapses and falling rocks, it said.
Meanwhile, 285 riverside locations in Greater Kaohsiung, Greater Tainan and Greater Taichung, as well as in the counties of Nantou, Chiayi and Pingtung remained on red alert for mudslides, while yellow alerts were issued by the Council of Agriculture earlier in the day for 398 mudslide-prone spots nationwide.
Agricultural losses throughout the country have reached NT$317.1 million (US$10.57 million) since the rain began on June 9, the council said.
Damage to agricultural produce topped the list of losses, totaling NT$181.6 million, with rice, leafy vegetables and seasonal fruit among the worst-hit.
Among the worst-affected areas were Chiayi County in the south, which suffered estimated losses of NT$93.9 million, Taoyuan County in the north, Nantou County in the center, and Pingtung County and Greater Kaohsiung in the south.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer