Taiwan News: Yilan Train Speeding Before Crash, US Navy Sails in Strait

Taiwan News: Yilan Train Speeding Before Crash, US Navy Sails in Strait
Credit: Reuters / TPG
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The head of a Cabinet task force investigating the cause of Sunday's deadly derailment of a Puyama Express in Yilan said Monday that the train was traveling at 140 km an hour when the it entered a curve and derailed at Xinma station.

Minister without Portfolio Wu Tze-cheng (吳澤成) said the speed limit for the area is 75 km an hour, but authorities are still unable to explain why the train was operating at such a high speed.

Wu and 14 other members of the task force, which also includes visited the crash site of the train seeking to establish the focus of the investigation.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
An overturned train is seen in Yilan, Taiwan October 22, 2018.

The Yilan District Prosecutors' Office has ordered the train driver detained for further questioning, amid speculation he may have been professionally negligent.

The 48-year-old driver was seriously injured in the derailment, but has now been moved out of an intensive care ward.

Prosecutors said they believe the driver was at fault in operating the train at too high a speed and also for shutting off the train's Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system.

According to Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) Director-General Jason Lu (鹿潔身), the ATP system would have slowed the train down automatically.

However, Lu has not released any further details of the rail network's own investigation into the accident.

The railway administration has agreed to complete safety checks by today of all 18 Puyuma Express trains, which were introduced in 2013.

Lu submitted his verbal resignation to Transport Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) immediately following the accident, but it has not yet been approved.

Wu said the current priority is to follow up with victims of the accident, which left 18 people dead and 190 others injured, according to the latest official figures.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
A relative of victims of a train derailment reacts at a hospital in Yilan, Taiwan October 22, 2018.

The transport minister is scheduled to give a special briefing about the derailment to lawmakers at the legislature tomorrow.

National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said that the families of those who killed in the accident will receive financial compensation of NT$5.4 million (US$170,000).

According to the Railway Act, families of those who lose their lives in train accidents can receive up to NT$2.5 million in compensation, in addition to a TRA relief fund payment of NT$2.8 million and an additional NT$100,000.

Those seriously injured are entitled to NT$1.4 million in compensation, as well as a relief fund payment of NT$1 million and an additional NT$5,000.

Passengers with less serious injuries are entitled to receive a maximum of NT$600,000, depending on the severity of their injuries in addition to a payment of NT$5,000.

TRA Chief Secretary Dennis Ju (朱來順) told a news conference that the TRA has offered NT$100,000 to the families of the deceased and NT$5,000 to those who were injured in the immediate aftermath of the accident as comfort funds.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
A relative attends a ceremony paying tribute to the victims of a train derailment in Yilan, Taiwan Oct. 22, 2018.

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The Ministry of National Defense has confirmed that two U.S. Navy vessels passed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday from the south to the north.

The ministry said the passage was a routine transit through international waters. According to defense officials, the operation was closely monitored and they were able to "maintain the security of the seas and the airspace" as it occurred.

A deputy spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet is being quoted as saying the ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

USS Curtis Wilbur and USS Antietam conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on Oct. 22, in accordance with international law,” said Cmdr. Nate Christensen.

The spokesman also said the U.S. Navy will continue "to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

A similar transit by two American destroyers occurred in July, and that was first time the U.S. Navy had carried out a mission like that in more than a year.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur patrols in the Philippine Sea in this Aug. 15, 2013 file photo.

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The head of the Investigation Bureau has said China is trying to meddle in November's local elections, by pouring money into the campaign coffers of candidates it favors.

According to Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Wen-jong (呂文忠) , the bureau has received 33 pieces of intelligence that point to efforts by China to influence the Nov. 24 ballot.

Lu said some of the information has been verified as "solid evidence" in four cases of alleged vote-buying currently under investigation by prosecutors.

Speaking at a legislative hearing, Lu said Beijing has given money to some candidates' campaigns, and has invited influential local community leaders to tour China in return for their backing of the Communist Party's favored candidates.

The Investigation Bureau said four cases under investigation by prosecutors in Taipei, Changhua County, Yunlin County and Pingtung County, and they are being treated as alleged vote-buying.

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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) is rejecting comments by Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), in which the Taipei mayor said that U.S. President Donald Trump treats Taiwan "as a product on a shelf."

Ko made the statement in an interview with Bloomberg last week. According the foreign minister, Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country that has its own diplomatic policy and national interests and is certainly not for sale.

Wu went on to say that the government is committed to safeguarding Taiwan's national interests and will never consider sell the country to highest bidder.

Ko told Bloomberg that Taiwan should not overestimate Washington's willingness to defend the island and needs to work on ways to making itself more valuable to Trump.

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Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像
Vice President Mike Pence laughs as US President Donald Trump holds a baseball bat as they attend a Made in America product showcase event at the White House in Washington in 2017. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je suggests President Trump treats Taiwan 'like a product on a shelf.'

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said Russia is considering relaxing visa regulations for ROC passport holders.

The move comes after Taiwan last month launched a pilot visa-waver program for Russian visitors.

According to the foreign ministry, Moscow is considering simplifying visa procedures for tourists and business travelers.

And it's hoped that visa regulations could be eased by the end of this year at the earliest.

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The island's largest solar energy park has been brought online and is now generating power.

Taiwan Power Co. said the park in Changhua County began producing electricity at noon Monday and sent 14 megawatts to the national grid.

The site in the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park is still under construction.

Taipower said work will be completed by February of next year, and when fully operational the solar energy park will be able to generate enough electricity for 30,000 households.

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Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) is touting the success of Taiwan's space program, saying the government fully supports the development of the aerospace sector.

Speaking at the opening of a special exhibition on Taiwan's satellite program in Taipei, Chen said the launch of the Formosat-5 marked a new milestone in Taiwan's space program.

Chen also said since the Formosat-5 became operational in September, it is proof that locally designed and manufactured satellites are equal to those from countries with more advanced space programs.

And according to Chen, Formosat-7 will build on that success and will provide more accurate meteorological data for weather forecasting.

The exhibition is being held at the Presidential Office.

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Credit: Official SpaceX Photos

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The New Taipei District Prosecutors' Office has indicted two men on charges of distributing child pornography.

The men were arrested at their homes in February, where police found about 20-terabytes of pornographic videos stored on computers and hard drives belonging to the suspects.

The arrests came in the wake of Operation Centurion Plus, a task force initiated by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) I to monitor large-scale child pornography activity online.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau said it was contacted by the FBI after it was determined that the No. 30 and No. 33 suspects on a list of 100 suspects were based in Taiwan.

Both suspects are facing charges of violating of the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act and could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of three years and a fine of to NT$5 million.

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Acting Tainan Mayor Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) said in an interview with the Liberty Times that the city is hoping to complete construction of its first MRT line by 2025.

Speaking at ceremony to launch the official establishment of the Tainan Rapid Transit Office, Li said the 8.6-kilometer phase one construction will begin in 2020 and focus on the elevated Circular Blue line.

Phase one will have 12 stations and when complete will carry passengers from Daqiao Station in the city's northern district to Datong Station in the south.

According to the city's transportation plan, the Tainan MRT system will eventually consist of a Blue, Green and Red line.

The Green line will run from Anping District to Pingshi in the east of the city, while the Red line will connect with the city's high-speed railway station.

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The Child Welfare League Foundation is calling on parents to be more involved with their children after a survey found that just over three-quarters of adolescents follow idols, some to the point of obsession.

According to the nonprofit organization, its survey of children and teenagers aged between 11 and 17 found that 76.7 percent of respondents idolized stars.

Of that group, 43.7 percent do so for entertainment and will talk about the people they like with friends or follow their idols in the news.

Another 31.9 percent identify themselves as "fans" who are willing to get into arguments with others to defend the people they follow, and 18 percent are obsessed to the point of being willing to break the law for their idols.

Foundation executive-secretary Huang Yun-hsuan (黃韻璇) said while there is no right or wrong in children following someone they idolize, copying and imitating stars who convey negative images or ideas could corrupt their values as they grow up.

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The Uni-President Lions have booked their place in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) Taiwan Series after beating the Fubon Guardians 9-8 in game four of the play-offs in Xinzhuang in New Taipei.

The win means the Lions beat the Guardians 3-1 in the five-match series.

The Lions will now play second-half season champions the Lamigo Monkeys in the Taiwan Series, which begins this Saturday in Taoyuan.

The Monkeys have won the CPBL seven-game Taiwan Series four times in the past six years.

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Export orders in September rose more than 4 percent from a year earlier on continued global demand in the high-tech sector.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said export orders totaled US$47.86 billion dollars in September, up 4.2 percent from a year earlier.

It marks the third consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

Orders placed to information/communication device suppliers in September were up 6.2 percent from a year earlier, as international smartphone brands launched new models.

Demand for internet-related products also remained solid, and orders by electronics component exporters rose 10.2 percent from the year earlier period.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
A Korean Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is seen above a BP petrol station approaching to land at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland, Oct. 3, 2017.

EVA Air has unveiled Taiwan's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner passenger aircraft.

The airline took delivery of the aircraft on Oct. 2, and its maiden flight is expected to take place in early November on EVA Air's Taoyuan to Hong Kong route.

After the delivery of its second Dreamliner next month, the aircraft will be used for flights from Taoyuan to Osaka and Tokyo starting in December.

EVA Air has ordered a total of 24 Boeing 787s, consisting of four 787-9s and 20 787-10s, and all of the aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2022.

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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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