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.
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have
GRID PROBLEM: A Taipower spokesman said that the blackouts were not due to usage exceeding supply, nor were they because of a problem at the Singda plant There were rolling blackouts across Taiwan yesterday due to a grid malfunction at the Singda Power Plant (興達電廠) in Kaohsiung’s Yongan District (永安), while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said that it was working “as hard as possible to resolve the issue as soon as possible.” At 2:37pm, a malfunction at an ultra-high-voltage substation in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) triggered four generators at the Singda plant to go offline, cutting power output by 2.2 million kilowatts and prompting Taipower to initiate rolling blackouts nationwide as it worked on the problem. Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) told a news conference in Taipei that