February 17, 2019

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8 Members of Family Killed in Taiwan’s Worst Rail Crash in Decades

8 Members of Family Killed in Taiwan’s Worst Rail Crash in Decades
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TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwanese authorities were trying to determine Monday what caused a passenger train to crash in northern Taiwan the day before, killing 18 people in the island’s worst such accident in 37 years.

Among the dead were eight members of a family returning from a wedding, Taiwan’s railway authority confirmed. In addition to the dead, 187 people were injured in the Sunday afternoon crash.

On Monday morning, the Taiwan Railways Administration released a 12-second video of the moment the Puyuma Express train derailed in northeast Taiwan’s Yilan County. The train was carrying 366 passengers.

The video appears to show the engine beginning to roll over to its left after coming straight off the track before what should have been a turn to the right. The train seemed to show no indication of slowing down before the bend.

All eight of the train’s cars derailed, some knocking over concrete pylons. By Monday morning the wreckage had been cleared from the tracks.

Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and its premier, Lai Ching-te, both visited Yilan County after the accident.

Ms. Tsai visited one of the four local hospitals treating victims. She met with family members of the deceased, offering condolences, and prayed with Buddhist monks at a local temple.

The eight family members who died after attending the wedding ranged in age from 9 to 67, Tung Xiao-ling, 43, a relative of the victims who was not on the train, told Reuters. The victims were attending the wedding of Ms. Tung’s sister.

One American was among the injured.

The train accident is the deadliest in Taiwan since 1981, when a collision in Miaoli County, in the island’s northwest, killed 31 people.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that passengers on the train said that before the train’s derailing, the emergency brakes had been applied multiple times, and that illuminated signs on the train had been operating in an abnormal manner.

Mr. Lai, the premier, told local reporters that if the investigation turned up evidence of a problem with the train cars, he would look into suspending services by the Puyuma Express, which is the fastest train line serving Taiwan’s east coast. It has been in service since 2013.

Lu Chieh-shen, deputy chief of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said that the train’s conductor had five years of experience on the job.

Investigators met midday Monday with the conductor, who was among the injured and had been hospitalized overnight.

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