Taiwan rescuers complete recovery of last body from wrecked train

Fifty people have been confirmed dead after the train carrying almost 500 passengers and crew slammed into a truck.
Fifty people have been confirmed dead after the train carrying almost 500 passengers and crew slammed into a truck.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Emergency personnel on Monday (April 5) extricated the remains of the last passenger that had been trapped under the wreckage of Taiwan's worst rail accident in seven decades

The victim was identified as Mr Chuang Chien-chih, 21, a soldier who boarded the train with his colleague, who survived. 

Parts of his body had been recovered earlier. Hualien’s fire department said the body had been trapped under a 15-tonne train bogie. 

The government said five of the eight train carriages of the Taroko Express had now been removed, with the other three expected to be extracted by Tuesday. 

Fifty people have been confirmed dead after a packed express train carrying almost 500 passengers and crew slammed into a truck near the eastern city of Hualien on Friday morning, causing it to derail and the front end to crumple. 

The truck had slid down a sloping road from a building site onto the tracks just outside a tunnel. Officials suspect the truck's brakes were not properly applied and are investigating the manager of the site.

Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung said late on Sunday that he took responsibility for the accident and would step down once initial rescue and recovery work was complete.

The victims include two Americans and one French national.

Taiwan's government has promised compensation and said it would do everything it could to help survivors and their relatives, including coordinating public donations.

The damaged section of the track is not expected to reopen until April 20 at the earliest, though rail traffic continues on a parallel track that runs through another tunnel and was not affected by the accident.

The crash occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb-Sweeping Day, when people return home to tend to family graves.

Taiwan has no domestic travel curbs, as the Covid-19 pandemic is well under control, with only 40 active cases in hospitals.

Taiwan's worst train crash was in 1948, when 64 people were estimated to have died in a fire.