Nobody Set Truck's Parking Brake, and Tragedy Ensues

Death toll in Taiwan train crash grows to 51
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2021 4:04 PM CDT
Nobody Set Truck's Parking Brake, and Tragedy Ensues
Rescue workers work at the scene near Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Taiwan, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

The cause of the deadliest rail tragedy in decades in Taiwan appears to be distressingly simple. Somebody parked a construction vehicle but neglected to engage the parking brake, say government officials, per the AP. The truck rolled downhill and came to rest at the mouth of a railroad tunnel, where it was struck by one of the nation's fastest trains packed with nearly 500 people, reports the BBC. While the investigation is still underway, the train is capable of traveling up to 80 miles an hour. Authorities said Friday that they had freed all trapped passengers, but the current death toll of 51 could grow. The train had been traveling from Taipei to the southeastern city of Tatitung, jammed with people returning home for a traditional long weekend that honors dead family members, per Reuters.

“People just fell all over each other, on top of one another,” a woman who survived the crash told local TV. “It was terrifying. There were whole families there.” Around 150 people were injured in the crash. Authorities say the unmanned truck that slid onto the tracks belonged to a crew that was stabilizing the hillside. The manager of that operation has been taken in for questioning. Taiwan has an extensive and popular rail system, and while accidents are relatively rare, another derailment in 2018 killed 18 people. The nation's worst rail accident, in 1948, killed 64 people, per Reuters. (Read more train crash stories.)

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