Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday listed three priorities in response to the deadliest accident involving a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train in the past 40 years: rescuing the injured, clearing the single-track tunnel and assisting the families of the victims.
Taroko Express No. 408, traveling from New Taipei City to Taitung on Friday morning, derailed as it entered the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林).
Of the 496 people on board, including four TRA personnel, 51 had died and 188 were injured as of 7pm yesterday, after the train hit a crane truck that had slid down a slope from a work site onto the rails, the TRA said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) yesterday quoted Su’s list of priorities.
The premier said that priority must also be given to compensation claims by families of the victims, Lo added.
Government agencies are in the process of expediting DNA testing to assist families in identifying their loved ones, and the National Police Agency has been instructed to help victims’ families transport the bodies, Lo said, adding that the transportation fees would be covered by the TRA.
Photo: Wang Chin-yi, Taipei Times
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that the crane truck blamed for the accident was suspected to have rolled onto the track within 15 minutes of the Taroko Express’ arrival.
The ministry came to the conclusion as another train bound for Hualien had passed the same spot at 9:13am, before the Taroko Express hit the truck at 9:28am, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said.
That piece of information could help the investigation, as no surveillance footage was found on site, he said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The rescue mission is continuing, the National Fire Agency said, adding that there might be more bodies in cars No. 3 and 6.
Wang said that cars No. 1 and 2, the last two carriages in the eight-car train, have been towed away, while the removal of car No. 3 would take some time, as the track was seriously damaged.
The first five carriages of the train derailed and piled up in the narrow, single-track tunnel, the ministry said.
While investigations continue, it is likely that the crane truck, which had been parked on a hill above the track, slid onto the track as its emergency brake was not properly engaged, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said.
The Hualien District Court released the truck’s driver and site supervisor, Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥), on NT$500,000 (US$17,524) bail, but he was restricted from travel.
Prosecutors have filed a request that Lee be detained, saying he poses a flight risk, and he could destroy evidence or transfer company assets to evade paying compensation.
Lee is listed as the owner of Yi Hsiang Industry Co (義祥工業社) and Yi Cheng Construction Co (義程營造).
Investigators found that Lee had obtained 19 government contracts in the past five years worth a total of NT$200 million.
AIMED AT TAIWAN? Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu said chips can be ‘bought off the shelf’ and then used in weapons The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that chips from Taiwanese semiconductor companies were not making their way into Chinese missiles “to the best of our knowledge.” A report in yesterday’s Washington Post alleged that a Chinese company named Phytium Technology Co (飛騰) used chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), along with US software, in advanced Chinese military systems. “TSMC has long placed strict controls on their chips. The export of high-tech products from Taiwan is also highly regulated,” Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said. “According to our understanding, none of the end uses for those products
HEATED TRAFFIC: As Beijing holds naval drills near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said it had a full grasp of the situation and would handle it ‘appropriately’ A Chinese carrier group exercising near Taiwan is part of what are to be regular drills, the Chinese navy said in a statement late on Monday, further escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. The group, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, was conducting “routine” drills in the waters around Taiwan, a move to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the statement said. “Similar exercises will be conducted regularly,” it said, without elaborating. The statement came after the Ministry of National Defense earlier on Monday issued a statement regarding a rise in the number of incursions by Chinese jets into
NO TIME: The driver tried to apply the brakes when he saw the truck, but the train did not have time to come to a full stop, an investigation report said The crane truck that caused last week’s fatal train accident had slid onto the tracks about one-and-a-half minutes before it was struck, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. The board had launched an investigation into the derailment, which killed 50 people and injured 211 people, making it the nation’s most devastating railway accident in decades. Carrying 494 passengers and four Taiwan Railways Administration personnel, the southbound express train to Taitung hit the truck as it was about to enter the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The train derailed following the collision, with the left side of the eighth
‘IMPORTANT PARTNER’: The new guidelines aim to encourage US engagement with Taiwan, which reflects a deepening relationship, the US Department of State said The US Department of State on Friday issued new guidelines governing US officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts, a move welcomed by Taipei as turning a new page in bilateral relations. Shortly before leaving office, then-US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Jan. 9 announced the cancelation of previous contact guidelines, which he said were “self-imposed restrictions” that attempted to appease the Chinese Communist Party regime in Beijing. However, the status of the guidelines has been unclear since US President Joe Biden entered the White House. Asked about the issue during a legislative session on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu