Taiwan News: Investigation Seeks Answers after Train Crash Kills 18, Injures 175

Taiwan News: Investigation Seeks Answers after Train Crash Kills 18, Injures 175
Photo Credit: 中央社

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) has said external railway accident experts could be called in to help investigate Sunday's deadly derailment of a Puyuma Express train in Yilan.

According to Lai, officials from the Ministry of Justice and the Yilan District Procurators' Office are now still collecting evidence from the crash site.

Officials said 18 people have now been confirmed killed in the accident and 175 others were injured.

The train departed from New Taipei bound for Taitung and was carrying 366 passengers.

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Photo Credit: 中央社
Search and rescue teams continue their operations into the night after a train derailed near Xinma station in Yilan County on Oct. 22.

The Taiwan Railway Administration said that the train derailed at Xinma Station and all eight passenger cars jumped the tracks and five overturned.

Emergency service and military personnel carried out search and rescue operations through the night.

TRA Director-General Jason Lu (鹿潔身) apologized for the derailment during a press conference, and confirmed an emergency taskforce has been established to investigate the accident.

Lu said the Puyuma Express, which is a tilting service, was on a curved section at the time of the accident, but it remains unclear how fast the train was traveling when the accident took place.

The injured passengers are being treated at the St Mary's and Boai hospitals in Luodong, the Suao Branch of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and the Lanyang Branch of National Yang-Ming University Hospital.

The train has been operational since 2011 and railway administration officials say it underwent maintenance last year.

Local media quoted a survivor of the accident as saying the driver of the train applied emergency brakes multiple times in the moments before the crash.

According to the passenger, he heard strange sounds and saw abnormal signs on the information screen system before the train arrived in Yilan.

The accident occurred not long after the train went past Luodong and started to pick up speed, according to the passenger's statement.

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Photo Credit: 中央社
More than 250 rescue personnel, including medical teams, firefighters and army, assisted at the scene, according to the Executive Yuan.

Another passenger said that many people were asleep when the accident occurred and were unable to react to the situation quickly.

Uni Air has said it will operate additional flights over the next two days to help meet travel demand between Taipei and Hualien, after the TRA said up to 10,000 people were affected by delays and cancellations.

The TRA said power was restored to the east coast line at 5 o'clock this morning and a single track traffic is now operating on the line.

This morning's south bound and north bound express train services from Nanao to Shulin and from Yilan to Hualien are operating, but train speeds have been reduced to 40 kilometers an hour.

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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has said the U.S. is considering sending naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait to send a message to China about the U.S. military's right to travel those and any other international waters.

The WSJ is citing U.S. officials as saying the operation is currently in the planning stage, but will include at least two ships on a multi-day mission in the Taiwan Strait.

The move comes after two U.S. Navy ships sailed through the strait in July and after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with regional defense chiefs in Singapore at the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

Mattis said at the time that the "U.S. will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and encourages all nations to confidently exercise their right to do the same."

Mattis also met with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Singapore, in what he called an effort at resetting an increasingly strained military relationship between the two countries.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
A Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike fighter jet touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, marking the first time the aircraft has deployed aboard a US Navy ship and with a Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region in East China Sea, March 5, 2018.

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The design and production of biodegradable straws made from sugarcane fiber by a Taiwanese company has won a gold medal at an international invention fair in France.

The sugarcane straws have been developed by Ju-Tian Eco-Materials, which was founded by Huang Chien-chung- the inventor of sugarcane straws.

The straws won a gold medal and a special jury prize at the event in Montpellier.

The organizers of the fair praised the company for developing the product with zero waste by applying the concept of circular economy, low carbon emissions and low energy consumption.

According to the company's website, the biodegradable straws' raw materials are composed of sugarcane fiber and polylactic acid and can withstand temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 50 degrees and can be reused multiple times.

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Credit: Wikipedia
Read More:ANALYSIS: The Difficult Truth About Sustainability and Bio-Plastics

This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)

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