Train derailment kills at least 50 in Taiwan, mainland express condolence
Published: Apr 02, 2021 11:56 AM Updated: Apr 03, 2021 12:33 AM


At least 50 people died and more than 140 injured after a passenger train derailed in a tunnel on eastern Taiwan island Friday morning, according to the local railway department. Casualties are likely to climb, as some are seriously injured. 

Among the 50 deceased, two are the driver and assistant driver, and the rest are passengers including one French national.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits both on Friday sent condolences to the families of the deceased, and expressed sympathies to the injured in the tragic accident. 

The mainland is highly concerned about the accident and following the progress of the follow-up rescue efforts, said Ma Xiaoguang in Beijing on Friday. Ma is a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

The All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots also issued a letter of sympathy on Friday, saying that Taiwan compatriots living on the mainland were saddened about the accident. 

The eight-car 408 Taroko Express carrying over 490 passengers hit a construction vehicle first and derailed in a tunnel near Hualian city in eastern Taiwan Friday morning. 

The 2nd and 3rd carriages of the train were derailed, while the 3rd to 8th carriages remained in a tunnel, with the 4th and 5th carriages the most severely deformed. The rescue operation is still underway as of late Friday.

The accident could have been caused by a construction vehicle sliding along the slope near the tunnel, hitting the moving train, local media suggested.

The construction vehicle was suspected to have slipped from the slope onto the rail track without pulling its brake, causing the train, which had just come out of the tunnel, to veer off its track. This was because the moving train, with running speeds of around 125 kilometers per hour, gave way to the possibility that the drivers did not have enough time to react when they saw the vehicle, according to local media reports. The investigation is still underway.

The amount of compensation for the dead is about NT$5.4 million ($189,730) for each person, NT$2.4 million for each seriously injured and NT$600,000 for each lightly injured passenger, according to media reports.

This wasn’t the first time for such a distressful accident to happen on the island. Since 1978, 10 major train accidents have occurred there, but the 408 Taroko Express accident was the most fatal one, local media said. 

On October 21, 2018, the Puyuma Express train No.6432 bound for Taitung city from Shulin Station veered off its track with 370 passengers on board, causing 18 deaths and 270 injuries. 

Global Times

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