Mon, Oct 22, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Derailment kills 18, injures as least 171

EAST COAST TRAGEDY:Injured passengers were taken to four hospitals in Yilan County, including one in Suao, two in Luodong and one in Lanyang, the TRA said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Onlookers watch rescue operations after the derailment of a Puyuma Express train near the Sinma Train Station in Yilan County yesterday.

Photo: CNA

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.

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.

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.

This story has been viewed 15217 times.

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