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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.
The Yilan District Court said the driver of the Puyuma Express that derailed Sunday in Yilan had turned off the automatic train protection (ATP) system and was operating the train manually prior to the accident.
According to the court, the driver, Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲), shut off the system near Daxi Station because he was having problems accelerating and that was the reason the train took a curve too fast and derailed.
The court said Yu told prosecutors the speedometer was not showing the correct speed and he believed the train was traveling at 82 kilometers per hour when the train entered the curve at Xinma Station.
Prosecutors have determined the train was traveling at 140 kilometers per hour and said the driver should have been aware of the speed and taken precautions, which indicates possible professional negligence.
However, reports said the Taiwan Railways Administration was aware of the problems and text messages show the driver requested the train be repaired.
A railways official is being quoted as saying communications records show the driver sent repeated reports on the train's status and had requested the train undergo repairs at Yilan station. The railways administration is refusing to comment on those claims, saying only the case remains under investigation.
The driver has been freed on bail of NT$500,000 (US$16,150) following a court hearing.
Authorities said 158 people out of the 190 treated for injuries following Sunday's accident have now been released from hospital. The remaining patients are being treated in hospitals in Taipei, Yilan and Taitung.
Premier William Lai (賴清德)is rejecting the resignation of Transport Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀), who offered to step down following Sunday's derailment.
According to Lai, post-disaster efforts require Wu's supervision, and he is also responsible for follow-up reviews of the Taiwan Railways Administration operating policies.
The Cabinet task force investigating the cause of Sunday's deadly derailment says it's likely to release its preliminary report on the cause of the crash in about a week.
The Taiwan Railways Administration said regular services in the area where the Puyuma express train derailed on Sunday resumed at 5:54 this morning, earlier than initially expected.
The track handling southbound trains was damaged in the accident and the rail network had been operating a scaled down service since Monday morning after wreckage from the crash was cleared.
Railways officials say work to repair the damaged track was completed yesterday afternoon, and work on repairs to the line's electrical system was carried out overnight.
Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his "solidarity and concern" for those involved in Sunday's deadly train crash. The telegram was released by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal on behalf of the pope and says the pontiff was "deeply saddened to learn of the train derailment in Yilan County."
No damage or injuries have been reported following this morning's magnitude 5.7 earthquake that rattled much of the island.
The earthquake struck at 12:04 and was centered some 106 kilometers east of Hualien County Hall at a depth of 29 kilometers.
It was felt strongest in Wufenshan in New Taipei, Yilan City and the Yilan County district of Dong-Shan, where is registered a magnitude 3 on the Central Weather Bureau's intensity scale.
The quake registered a magnitude 2 in parts of Hualien, Taitung, Changhua, Taichung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Taipei. It was also felt in some parts of Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung, where its registered a magnitude 1 on the intensity scale.
A U.S. expert on China has described the passage of two American warships through the Taiwan Strait earlier this week as a "wise move."
According to Ian Easton, it will help Taiwan fend off pressure from Beijing's efforts to isolate and intimidate the island.
The research fellow with the U.S.-based think tank Project 2049 Institute said he hopes U.S. ship passages through the Taiwan Strait will become routine, as he believes it's something Washington should do to counter China's military build-up.
Easton also says it's an opportunity for the U.S. Navy to rebuild lost muscle mass and go back to keeping peace in the region after decades of neglect.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed on Monday night that two American Navy vessels sailed into the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing is expressing its concern about the move, with its foreign ministry calling the passage of the two U.S. Navy ships "an insult to China's sovereignty."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) say six cooperation projects from El Salvador have been moved to Nicaragua since diplomatic relations with the former ally were severed earlier this year.
According to the ministry, the projects include freshwater and sea water fish farming, horticulture, agricultural marketing and a "One Town, One Product" project.
The Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs said all six projects were scheduled to be implemented in El Salvador. However, since El Salvador switched diplomatic recognition to China in August, the projects were relocated to Nicaragua from the start of October.
Foreign office officials say the projects are expected to be completed by 2021 with funding of NT$90 million (US$2.9 million) from Taiwan. Seven members of a Taiwan technical mission originally posted to El Salvador have also been reassigned to Nicaragua.
The Central Election Commission has approved a referendum proposal on overturning the government's policy to make Taiwan a nuclear-free homeland by 2025.
10 referendums will now to be held in conjunction with next month's local elections.
According to the commission, the proposal now meets the threshold for valid endorsements after the petitioner submitted enough additional signatures to make up for a shortfall.
The referendum proposal asks voters if they agree to abolish paragraph 1 of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which states that "all nuclear energy-based power-generating facilities shall completely cease operations by 2025."
The election commission had initially rejected the proposal due to the number of signatures being less than the legally required number to bring a referendum to a vote.
However, backers of the campaign submitted an additional 23,251 endorsements on Sept. 13 and the High Administrative Court ordered the commission to accept those endorsements last week.
The chairman of the Swinging Skirts Golf Foundation is expressing his regret that Chinese players have pulled out of this week's LPGA Taiwan Championship, which starts in Taoyuan tomorrow.
Johnson Wang says neither World No. 9 Feng Shanshan (馮珊珊) or rookie Liu Yu (劉鈺) will not be playing in the tournament.
The statement comes amid reports Feng and Liu were told by Chinese officials during last weekend's LPGA in Shanghai not play in at the Taiwan Swinging Skirt tournament. However, the foundation chairman is refusing to confirm those reports.
The 2018 Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship is part of the official LPGA tour. It tees off tomorrow at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club in Taoyuan.
Premier William Lai said he believes Taiwan needs to become a bilingual country before the government can push ahead with its plans to make English an official second language.
Speaking at a Legislative hearing, Lai said the government believes English will greatly help Taiwan enhance its global competitiveness and as such it is important to increase the use of the English language.
According to Lai, while he hopes English can one day become an official second language, the Ministry of Education has been tasked with first making Taiwan bilingual by ensuring that English is a required subject at all elementary schools.
Lai's comments come after Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) described the government's plans to make English a second official language as being "a huge waste of time" and of "little help in improving Taiwan's competitiveness."
Ko says the government should stop wasting money and resources in implementing such a policy and instead focus on simply promoting English proficiency.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the spread of indigenous dengue fever is starting to show signs of slowing down, despite confirmation of four new cases this week.
Health officials say all four new cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported in Taichung.
The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed dengue fever cases islandwide so far this year to 157.
The CDC says the new cases do not belong to cluster infections and fewer than 10 new cases have been reported over the past three weeks, meaning the spread of indigenous dengue fever is subsiding.
However, six new imported cases of dengue were reported last week: three from Cambodia, and one each from Myanmar, Vietnam and China.
The Taichung District Prosecutors' Office has indicted five people for violating the Banking Act with a virtual currency they invented and touted as an improved version of Bitcoin.
The indictments follow an investigation into a Taichung resident who established a cyber technology company with two Chinese nationals in China's Fujian Province in January of 2016.
Prosecutors say that suspect, along with his two brothers, his mother and a friend sold the virtual currency they invented named "Bao-Te Coin" to investors in both Taiwan and China.
According to prosecutors, they conned eight investors out of NT$23 million (US$742,700).
The five suspects are facing prison sentences of up to 10 years and a fine of up to NT$200 million (US$6.46 million).
Academia Sinica says it has discovered 17th century documents showing street plans for Tainan when the city was under Dutch rule.
According to the Institute of Taiwan History, the maps and documents detail how the city was developed by the Dutch to serve as a commercial hub.
Researchers say it's long been known that settlements in Tainan some 400 years ago were mainly located around the Dutch strongholds of what are now known as the Anping Fort the Zhi-Kan Tower.
However, the newly discovered documents plot the growth of civilian settlements in the area and also appear to show that many of the leading merchants of the day who traded in the Tainan area sailed to the town from Southeast Asia.
This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.
Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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