3/3 © Reuters. Day after train derailment in eastern Taiwan 2/3
By Ann Wang and Damon Lin HUALIEN, Taiwan (Reuters) – Taiwan’s transportation minister said on Sunday that he would not shirk his responsibility for a deadly train accident, even as his offer to resign was rejected amid mounting questions about failure of the train. security that could have contributed to the disaster. . In the island’s worst rail accident in seven decades, 51 people were confirmed dead after a packed express train crashed into a truck near the eastern city of Hualien on Friday, causing it to derail and the front end will collapse. Speaking at the crash site overlooking the ocean and backed by rugged mountains, Lin Chia-lung said he would “not shirk” responsibility. “I am also in charge of minimizing the damage caused by the entire accident. Once all the rescue work is completed, I think I will take responsibility,” he said. Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang’s office said Lin had made a verbal offer to resign on Saturday, but Su rejected it for the time being, saying efforts for now should focus on rescue and recovery. The truck that collided with the train had slid down a sloping road onto the track just outside a tunnel. Authorities are investigating the construction site manager, Lee Yi-hsiang, whose truck is suspected of not having the brakes applied properly. Lee had been released on bail, though the Hualien section of the higher court overturned that decision Sunday after prosecutors appealed it, sending the case back to the lower court. Lee read a statement apologizing for what happened when police took him away from his residence on Sunday, Taiwan media reported. “I deeply regret this and express my deepest apologies,” he said. “I will definitely cooperate with the prosecutors and the police in the investigation, accept the responsibility that must be assumed and never shirk. Finally, I once again express my sincere apologies.” The Transport Ministry, and the rail administration that reports to it, face scrutiny over a number of questions, including why there was no proper fence on the site and whether too many parking tickets were sold. Deputy Transport Minister Wang Kwo-tsai said late on Saturday that the railway administration needed to carefully analyze all these issues, adding that his personal sentiment was that “initially it seems negligence” on the part of the construction contractor. The rail administration also has no permanent director after its former boss retired in January. Another vice minister of transport, Chi Wen-chung, is serving as an interim. Wang said Lin was working hard to find the right person to fill the position. ‘THE DAUGHTER’S VOICE BECAME QUIETER AND QUIETER’ The uncle of the youngest confirmed victim, a five-year-old girl, tearfully told reporters that he was still waiting for an apology for the accident. “I am so angry,” he said. The government has promised compensation and will do everything possible to help the survivors and their families. The damaged section of the track will not reopen until April 20 at the earliest, Wang said, although rail traffic continues on a parallel track through another tunnel and was not affected by the accident. Minister Lin said that rescue and recovery work will continue. “We continue to remove the cabins stuck inside. The third cab was removed last night. We hope to remove another two cabins today,” he added. The accident occurred at the beginning of a long weekend for the traditional Grave Sweeping Day, when people return home to tend family graves. Survivors have described horrific scenes inside the wreck. Priest Sung Chih-chiang told Reuters what surviving passenger Chung Hui-mei had told him. “He couldn’t find his daughter. When he screamed, he found that his daughter was underneath the steel panels. He struggled to move those pieces one by one, but his daughter’s voice became more and more calm, and then there was no response, “” he said.