Eighteen people were killed and 171 injured yesterday after an eastbound Puyuma Express train, No. 6432, carrying 366 passengers, derailed at 4:50pm near the Sinma (新馬) Train Station in Yilan County, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said.
The agency had earlier put the death toll at 22, but at 10:45pm it lowered the number to 18.
All eight passenger cars jumped the tracks and five overturned, the TRA said.
Firefighters from Yilan County, New Taipei City and Keelung were dispatched, while the Ministry of National Defense deployed 120 military personnel, ambulances and other equipment to help with rescue efforts.
Most of the deaths were in the first car, a government spokesman said.
At a news conference in Taipei, TRA Director-General Jason Lu (鹿潔身) apologized for the derailment and said an emergency taskforce was established at 5pm, and that the agency’s operational safety committee would investigate the accident, the first major accident with the Puyuma Express service.
Photo: Wang Hsiu-ting, Taipei Times
Injured passengers were sent to St Mary’s Hospital Luodong, Luodong Bo-Ai Hospital, the Suao Branch of Taipei Veterans General Hospital and the Lanyang Branch of National Yang-Ming University Hospital, the TRA said.
A 43-year-old American woman was among the injured, officials said.
The Central Emergency Operation Center opened at 6pm, the TRA said.
Photo: Wang Hsiu-ting, Taipei Times
Puyuma Express No. 6432 entered operations at the end of 2011 and underwent major maintenance last year, the TRA said.
The accident occurred on a curve with a radius of 300m, but Puyuma Express trains are tiling trains designed to operate through curves at high speed, Lu said.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) went to the accident site to oversee rescue operations, while the Directorate-General of Highways provided shuttle buses between Luodong Township (羅東) and Dongao Township (東澳) for other rail passengers affected by the derailment, which forced the TRA to suspend rail services along some portions of the east coast line.
Uni Air said that it would provide additional flights between Taipei and Hualien for travelers heading to the east coast.
The derailment is one of the worst accidents in TRA’s history.
On March 8, 1981, a northbound Tzuchiang Express train hit a gravel truck at a railway crossing, causing four cars to fall into a river, killing 30 passengers and injuring 130.
Additional reporting by agencies
This story has been updated since it was first published to amend the death toll.
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South