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Taiwan mourns after deadliest train disaster in decades

Taiwan rail disaster: The train, packed with as many as 500 people at the start of a long holiday weekend, hit a truck that may have slipped down an embankment and onto the tracks.

April 03, 2021 / 01:32 PM IST
At least 50 people died and over 150 others were injured on April 2 in what is being called as Taiwan’s worst rail disaster in decades. Flags flew half-mast on April 3 as the island nation plunged into mourning. Officials said that the devastating collision was caused when a parked railway maintenance vehicle slipped down an embankment and onto the tracks. In this picture: Salvage teams can be seen removing mangled train carriages on April 3. (Image: AFP)
At least 50 people died and over 150 others were injured on April 2 in what is being called as Taiwan’s worst rail disaster in decades. Flags flew half-mast on April 3 as the island nation plunged into mourning. Officials said that the devastating collision was caused when a parked railway maintenance vehicle slipped down an embankment and onto the tracks. In this picture: Salvage teams can be seen removing mangled train carriages on April 3. (Image: AFP)
The train packed with as many as 500 people at the start of a long holiday weekend hit the truck just as it entered a narrow tunnel near the eastern coastal city of Hualien, Taiwan. (Image: AFP)
The train packed with as many as 500 people at the start of a long holiday weekend hit the truck just as it entered a narrow tunnel near the eastern coastal city of Hualien, Taiwan. (Image: AFP)
The truck driver -- who railway officials said may have failed to secure the parking brake properly -- has been released on bail after being interrogated by prosecutors and is barred from leaving Taiwan pending further investigation. (Image: AFP)
The truck driver -- who railway officials said may have failed to secure the parking brake properly -- has been released on bail after being interrogated by prosecutors and is barred from leaving Taiwan pending further investigation. (Image: AFP)
Rescuers described an appalling scene as they rushed into the tunnel and found the front of the train pulverised into a twisted mesh of metal. "Car number eight had the most serious injuries and number of deaths," rescue worker Chang Zi-chen told reporters on April 3, referring to the most forward passenger car. "Basically more than half of the carriage was split open and bodies were all piled up together." (Image: AFP)
Rescuers described an appalling scene as they rushed into the tunnel and found the front of the train pulverised into a twisted mesh of metal. "Car number eight had the most serious injuries and number of deaths," rescue worker Chang Zi-chen told reporters on April 3, referring to the most forward passenger car. "Basically more than half of the carriage was split open and bodies were all piled up together." (Image: AFP)
Specialist teams spent hours extracting victims and survivors on April 2. Focus shifted to removing carriages now blocking one half of the sole train line down Taiwan's remote and mountainous eastern coastline. An AFP reporter at the scene said the most heavily damaged carriages inside the tunnel had yet to be extracted. Rescuers said further bodies might still be inside the wreckage. (Image: AFP)
Specialist teams spent hours extracting victims and survivors on April 2. Focus shifted to removing carriages now blocking one half of the sole train line down Taiwan's remote and mountainous eastern coastline. An AFP reporter at the scene said the most heavily damaged carriages inside the tunnel had yet to be extracted. Rescuers said further bodies might still be inside the wreckage. (Image: AFP)
Taiwan's Interior Ministry ordered all flags to be lowered to half-mast for three days while President Tsai Ing-wen visited the wounded in Hualien's hospitals. "Government agencies are making an all-out effort in the hope of minimising the impact of the disaster so the deceased can rest in peace and the injured can recover soon," she told reporters. (Image: AFP)
Taiwan's Interior Ministry ordered all flags to be lowered to half-mast for three days while President Tsai Ing-wen visited the wounded in Hualien's hospitals. "Government agencies are making an all-out effort in the hope of minimising the impact of the disaster so the deceased can rest in peace and the injured can recover soon," she told reporters. (Image: AFP)
Crash took place at the start of the Tomb Sweeping Festival, a four-day public holiday when many Taiwanese return to villages to tidy the graves of their ancestors. More than 175 people were rushed to hospital. A French national was among the dead. Survivors gave terrifying testimony of their ordeal inside the train after the crash. (Image: AFP)
Crash took place at the start of the Tomb Sweeping Festival, a four-day public holiday when many Taiwanese return to villages to tidy the graves of their ancestors. More than 175 people were rushed to hospital. A French national was among the dead. Survivors gave terrifying testimony of their ordeal inside the train after the crash. (Image: AFP)
Many of those on board were standing in the aisles because the route was so busy with those leaving capital Taipei and heading to their home villages. Morgues in Hualien operated through the night preparing bodies for devastated family members. (Image: AFP)
Many of those on board were standing in the aisles because the route was so busy with those leaving capital Taipei and heading to their home villages. Morgues in Hualien operated through the night preparing bodies for devastated family members. (Image: AFP)
Officials have warned that the death toll could rise because some body parts have yet to be properly identified. Investigators are focusing on how the maintenance truck could have slipped onto the tracks. The driver was part of a team that conducts regular landslide checks on the mountainous route. Officials said he may have failed to properly engage the parking brake. (Image: AFP)
Officials have warned that the death toll could rise because some body parts have yet to be properly identified. Investigators are focusing on how the maintenance truck could have slipped onto the tracks. The driver was part of a team that conducts regular landslide checks on the mountainous route. Officials said he may have failed to properly engage the parking brake. (Image: AFP)
Taiwan's eastern railway line is a popular tourist draw down its less populated eastern coastline. With the help of multiple tunnels and bridges, it winds its way through towering mountains and dramatic gorges before entering the picturesque Huadong Valley. (Image: AFP)
Taiwan's eastern railway line is a popular tourist draw down its less populated eastern coastline. With the help of multiple tunnels and bridges, it winds its way through towering mountains and dramatic gorges before entering the picturesque Huadong Valley. (Image: AFP)
Crash took place near two of the most famous landmarks on the eastern shoreline -- the Tarako Gorge and dramatic Qingshui Cliffs. A world-class bullet train system also serves the heavily populated western side of the island. Crash looks set to be one of Taiwan's worst railway accidents on record. (Image: AFP)
Crash took place near two of the most famous landmarks on the eastern shoreline -- the Tarako Gorge and dramatic Qingshui Cliffs. A world-class bullet train system also serves the heavily populated western side of the island. Crash looks set to be one of Taiwan's worst railway accidents on record. (Image: AFP)
The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018 and left 18 people dead on the same eastern line. That crash was the island's worst since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli. Other major crashes that killed dozens have taken place in 1981, 1978 and 1961. Taiwan's most deadly rail disaster on record was in 1948 when a train caught fire and 64 people perished. (Image: AFP)
The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018 and left 18 people dead on the same eastern line. That crash was the island's worst since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli. Other major crashes that killed dozens have taken place in 1981, 1978 and 1961. Taiwan's most deadly rail disaster on record was in 1948 when a train caught fire and 64 people perished. (Image: AFP)
AFP
first published: Apr 3, 2021 01:31 pm

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