Hualien County, Taiwan — On Saturday, Taiwanese prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for the owner of an unmanned truck that rolled on railroad tracks, causing the country’s worst railroad disaster in decades, killing 50 people and injuring 178. It was.
According to the Taiwan Railways Administration, the train was carrying 494 people when it crashed into a construction truck at the beginning of Friday’s long holiday weekend. According to the government’s disaster relief center, the truck’s emergency braking was not working properly.
The accident occurred just before the train entered the tunnel, and many passengers were crushed in a broken passenger car. Many of the trains were trapped in tunnels, forcing some survivors to climb through windows and walk along the train roof for safety.
Authorities initially reported 51 deaths, but revised one countdown on Saturday. Some of the killed were American citizens. Another US citizen on the train was reported missing, according to a statement from Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry.
Yu Siuduan, chief prosecutor in eastern Hualien County, where the train derailed, said he was seeking an arrest warrant for the owner of the truck, which was cross-examined with several others. She quoted an ongoing investigation and did not provide details.
The Hualien District Court allowed the owner of the truck to pay NT $ 500,000 (US $ 17,516) on bail, but he must stay in the county and avoid contact with witnesses, central Taiwan. The news agency reported.
A spokesman said President Tsai Ing-wen visited a hospital near the crash instead of on-site so as not to interfere with rescue operations.
“This tragic accident caused many injuries and deaths. I came to Hualien today to visit the injured and condolences to the families of the deceased passengers,” Tsai said. “We will definitely help them in the aftermath.”
Tsai told reporters on Friday that he had asked the Japan Transport Safety Board for a rigorous investigation.
Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung said repairs would be accelerated.
“I’m very sorry when that happens, and I take full responsibility,” Lin said after visiting the site.
On Saturday morning, workers removed the last two cars from the railroad tracks. But while the other five cars were still pushed into the tunnel, they couldn’t move one-third before the truck was repaired. In a remote area on the east coast of the island, I saw two large construction cranes being pulled up next to the train.
Wen Whipin, head of the railroad newsgroup, said surgery should be done within a week. During the repair, all East Coast trains ran parallel to the trains damaged in the accident, causing a delay of 15 to 20 minutes, he said.
According to the National Fire Department, the dead included young, newlywed drivers and assistants on the train. The government’s disaster response center said it was the worst railroad disaster since a train ignited in the suburbs of Taipei in 1948, killing 64 people.
Traveling by train is popular during a four-day grave cleaning vacation in Taiwan, where families often return to their hometowns to pay homage to the elders’ graveyards.
Taiwan is a mountainous island, with most of its 24 million people living on the flatlands of the island’s farmlands, metropolitan areas and the north and west coasts, home to most of the high-tech industry. The sparsely populated eastern part of the crash is popular with tourists, many of whom travel by train to avoid mountain trails.
Ralph Jennings and Johnson Rye