A Tzuchiang Express train derailed in Pingtung County early yesterday following a mudslide, leaving 17 passengers injured, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said.
Thirteen sustained minor injuries and were discharged from the hospital, but three passengers and the train driver remained hospitalized in a stable condition yesterday, the TRA said.
The accident took place at 7:26am when the Tzuchiang Express train No. 302, which was traveling at 90kph, hit the mudslide at a tunnel entrance on the South Link Railway (南迴鐵路), near Pingtung County’s Fangliao (枋寮), the TRA said.
The TRA quoted the train driver surnamed Ho (何) as saying that, before entering the tunnel, he saw the mudslide washing down a slope and immediately applied his brakes.
Injuries were minimized because the driver handled the situation appropriately, it added.
“There were just a few seconds before I saw the mudslide ... it was raining very hard,” Ho said, adding that his vision was impaired as the train had emerged from another tunnel just before the incident.
The train slid for three to four seconds before hitting the mudslide.
“I didn’t even have time to scream before I was flung from my seat,” he said.
About 250 passengers were on the train, which was traveling from Taitung to Kaohsiung.
The injured were sent to Logefeil Memorial Hospital and Mackay Memorial Hospital’s Taitung branch for treatment, the TRA said.
TRA Deputy Director-General Lu Chieh-shen (鹿潔身) said the TRA has slope stability monitoring systems along the South Link Railway, but not at the location where the accident took place.
Soldiers, Taiwan High Speed Rail workers and TRA personnel were called to help clear the site, he said, adding that the TRA hopes to restore services by tomorrow.
The TRA said it has also dispatched 20 shuttle buses to run between Fangliao and Dawu (大武) and passengers can get ticket refunds at any station within 15 days.
Additional reporting by Chen Hsien-i, AFP and staff writer with CNA