Truck driver expresses 'deep remorse' after deadly Taiwan train crash

A busy passenger train carrying 490 people has derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan, killing at least 48 and injuring dozens more, according to authorities. Rescue efforts to free those trapped continue. The eight car train, traveling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien, causing several carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the government-run Central News Agency (CNA) reported, citing the fire department.

Posted: Apr 5, 2021 3:21 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2021 3:21 PM

A driver whose truck was allegedly involved in a deadly train crash in eastern Taiwan has issued a tearful apology, saying he is "deeply remorseful."

Authorities are investigating a crane truck that slid down an incline and fell into the path of a passenger train carrying 498 people. In total, 50 people died in Friday's crash and 202 people were injured, according to Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC).

"I am deeply remorseful and want to express my most sincere apologies," the driver of the truck, Lee Yi-hsiang, said Sunday. "I will cooperate with the investigation by police and prosecutors to take appropriate responsibility."

Lee was granted bail on Saturday, but Hualien District Court later revoked his bail, citing the possibility that he could try to flee, collude with others, or destroy evidence, Taiwan's government-run Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

According to the CNA report, investigators are looking into whether the crane truck's brake was not properly engaged -- either as a result of mechanical failure or human negligence.

CEOC revised its death toll down on Monday from 51 to 50. The train driver is among the dead, according to Taiwan's fire department.

According to CEOC, 163 of those injured have been discharged and 37 are still being treated.

Government response

The train came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien, causing several carriages to hit the tunnel wall, and occurred just as a long weekend began for the nation's Tomb Sweeping Day public holiday.

The crash site is located just east of the picturesque Taroko National Park, a popular tourist destination on the island's mountainous east coast.

Taiwan's transportation minister Lin Chia-lung offered to resign in a phone call Sunday with Taiwan's premier Su Tseng-chang, saying he wished to step down and take responsibility for the accident, CNA reported.

Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng told reporters that the Taiwanese premier commended Lin for showing accountability but declined to discuss the resignation.

The government has already laid out a compensation plan for every passenger, which will see NT$5.3 million ($185,500) provided to the families of each fatality. Those badly injured will each receive $91,000 and other injured passengers will receive $14,000, officials said.

Taiwan's President, Tsai Ing-wen said Friday her government will "continue to do everything we can to ensure [passenger] safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident."

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