BFF-01 Taiwan investigates train crash that killed 18

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BFF-01

TAIWAN-RAIL-ACCIDENT

Taiwan investigates train crash that killed 18

YILAN, Taiwan, Oct 22, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Taiwan’s president pushed for a
swift investigation Monday after an express train derailed on a coastal
tourist route, killing 18 people in the island’s worst rail accident for 27
years.

The crash on the popular east coast line Sunday, which left the Puyuma
Express lying zig-zagged across the tracks, also injured 187 passengers.

Among those who died, the youngest was nine years old. Two students aged
12 and 13 from a junior high school in Taitung — where the train was headed
— were also killed, according to the transport ministry.

Officials said Monday that a small number of passengers were still
unaccounted for and that the search effort was continuing at the accident
site in the northeastern county of Yilan.

Cranes were brought in overnight to lift the Puyuma Express coaches away
from the southbound track. All eight carriages derailed and five had flipped
onto their side.

Crane operators told an AFP reporter at the scene that work had been
hampered by wet ground due to recent rain, so stabilising platforms were
being brought in for the cranes.

Train services have partially resumed, using the northbound track.

President Tsai Ing-wen arrived early Monday at Xinma station, near where
the train derailed. “Everyone is concerned about the cause of the incident
and I’ve asked prosecutors to clarify the situation… and the cause soon,”
she told reporters.

“At this difficult time let us all pray for the injured and hope the
deceased can rest in peace.”

Tsai also thanked the international community, including the United States
and the European Union for expressing condolences over the incident.

Video footage of the aftermath of the crash, broadcast on local Taiwan
television, showed passengers smashing a window from inside and kicking it
through to escape.

Passengers who survived the accident recalled how the train had been
shaking intensely during the journey and was going “very fast” before it
derailed. “The train stopped twice and we were told that there were problems
that needed repair but the train restarted not long after,” one passenger who
identified herself as Mrs Chiu told reporters.

“We felt that the speed was too fast, then there was a crashing sound and
we flew off (from the seats),” she said, adding that many passengers were
sleeping at the time.

The crash was the worst rail accident in Taiwan since 1991, when 30
passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli in
western Taiwan.

BSS/AFP/MSY/0829 hrs