12 hurt as train in Pingtung derails
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A train derailed in Pingtung yesterday due to a mudslide, leaving 12 passengers injured and paralyzing railway traffic in the southern county for hours, the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) said.
September 1, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The six-car Tze-Chiang Express train carrying 250 passengers hit a pile of mud and rocks lying on the track at the mouth of a tunnel in Fangshan Township at about 7:33 a.m., but continued on into the tunnel before derailing and stopping, with the first four cars stuck inside, according to the TRA.
“I felt two obvious impacts and then the luggage was flying around and I was thrown off my seat,” a passenger, surnamed Liu, said of the moment the train hit the mud and rocks.
“There was no electricity, and it was pitch-dark. I had to feel my way (out of the tunnel) to safety,” said Liu, who was riding in the second car and sustained injuries to his back and legs in the accident.
The accident left 12 passengers injured, three of them seriously, the TRA said, adding that all of injured were in the first and second cars, the TRA said.
The train had earlier departed from the eastern county of Taitung heading for Kaohsiung along the South-Link Line, which connects the east and west coasts through Pingtung.
The mudslide may have been triggered by the continuous rainfall over the past few days due to Tropical Storm Kong-Rey.
According to the TRA, its track inspector had conducted a routine check of the area just two hours before the accident and had reported normal conditions.
The driver of the train, surnamed Ho, said that when he saw the mudslide, he hit the brakes but could not stop the train, which was traveling at about 90 kilometers per hour at the time. Ho was slightly injured in the accident.
The accident disrupted traffic on the South-Link Line, which connects Pingtung and Taitung, the TRA said, adding that normal traffic on the line may not resume until tomorrow.
The accident occurred in a remote area inaccessible by car, making it difficult for rescuers and TRA personnel to reach the site.
The TRA said its personnel managed to tow away the two cars that had remained outside the tunnel after the accident, but the other cars remained stuck inside the tunnel.
The Central Weather Bureau warned that heavy rains are expected to continue in southern Taiwan this week. Days of downpour are raising the chance of mudslides in mountainous areas, it added.