HUALIEN, Taiwan — Two days after Taiwan’s deadliest rail catastrophe in a long time, investigators have been working on Sunday to find out why a truck had slipped downhill from a building web site into the trail of an categorical practice, ensuing in the collision and derailment that killed dozens of individuals.
The operator of the crane truck, Lee Yi-hsiang, was ordered detained on Sunday by a decide, who reversed an earlier choice to grant him bail. Mr. Lee, who has not been charged with a criminal offense, informed reporters he had precipitated the crash and stated he would take full accountability for it.
“I hereby express my deep regret and my sincerest apologies,” Mr. Lee stated, his voice choking as he bowed in apology.
But investigators have been nonetheless attempting to find out whether or not Mr. Lee had uncared for to make use of the emergency brake, or if the truck had malfunctioned in a way. Mr. Lee informed reporters on Saturday that he had engaged the brake.
Other facets of the catastrophe have been additionally being investigated. Officials stated they have been attempting to find out precisely when the driving force of the practice utilized the brake earlier than the collision.
Officials stated on Sunday that fifty individuals had been killed in the crash of the eight-car Taroko Express, which derailed and slammed right into a tunnel wall after hitting the truck on Friday. The practice was packed, carrying 498 individuals on the primary day of a protracted vacation weekend.
The authorities had beforehand put the loss of life toll at 51. Identifying victims has been a sluggish and troublesome course of, and emergency personnel have been nonetheless attempting on Sunday to extricate wreckage from the tunnel and recuperate the stays of victims. Thirty-seven survivors of the crash have been nonetheless hospitalized on Sunday, officers stated.
Some survivors and relations of the lifeless have proven extra grief than anger. Taiwan’s final severe practice crash, in 2018, was discovered to have been brought on by driver’s negligence, however preliminary impressions have been that the collision on Friday was one thing extra like a freak accident.
Some relations stated they didn’t wish to assign accountability for the catastrophe earlier than the federal government had completed its investigation, which the authorities stated would take about two months.
“I don’t want to blame anyone,” Wu Ming-yu, 68, stated on Sunday, as she sat with relations beneath a tent at a funeral dwelling in Hualien, a metropolis south of the crash web site on Taiwan’s east coast. They have been ready for a mortuary make-up artist to complete work on the physique of Ms. Wu’s daughter, Huang Chiao-ling, a 35-year-old nurse who had been on her technique to see her household.
Still, Ms. Wu stated she was involved that the development web site might have fallen in need of security requirements. “You have to ensure the safety of the construction, because if you don’t you will end up hurting other people,” stated Ms. Wu.
The building challenge had been commissioned by Taiwan’s transportation ministry to enhance the security of the slope close to the crash web site, which occurred on a steep mountainside on the Pacific coast. It was half of a bigger, six-year plan to boost railway security in Taiwan. Mr. Lee, the operator of the crane truck, was additionally the challenge’s web site supervisor.
“It’s ironic and very unfortunate,” stated Yusin Lee, a professor of civil engineering and director of the Center for Railway Studies at National Cheng Kung University in the southern metropolis of Tainan. “It’s a reminder that even when we have safety-targeted construction projects, we still have to keep safety in mind.”
At a news convention on Sunday, officers stated that Lee Yi-hsiang might have hid a part of his background when he utilized to be the challenge’s web site supervisor.
Su Chih-wu, a high quality management engineer on the location, stated by phone that employees had practically completed the challenge, which was centered on reinforcing the construction of a practice tunnel operating parallel to the one the place the crash occurred.
He additionally stated that there shouldn’t have been employees on the web site on Friday, because it was the primary day of a protracted vacation weekend. It was not clear on Sunday whether or not Lee Yi-hsiang or anybody else had been on the web site that day.
Another engineer on the challenge, Yang Chin-lang, rejected the concept his crew had failed to make sure an enough stage of security. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he stated by phone. Both Mr. Yang and Mr. Su stated that they had been interviewed by prosecutors on Saturday.
“I just followed the design blueprints and did my job,” Mr. Yang added.
The crash occurred close to Qingshui Cliff, an space the place mountains rise dramatically from the Pacific Ocean. Experts say the troublesome terrain has lengthy introduced a problem to transportation engineers, and plenty of accidents have occurred on the winding freeway there through the years. But the rail and freeway routes are a vital hyperlink between Taipei, the capital, and the east coast.
Feng Hui Sheng, deputy director of the Taiwan Railways Administration, stated in an interview on Sunday that the company had made continuous security enhancements to its techniques and gear because the 2018 crash.
He stated that these adjustments would proceed and that the authorities would additionally search to enhance the community’s sign and alarm techniques and improve observe security. But he additionally acknowledged that broader adjustments would possibly occur slowly.
“When it comes to the innovation and reform of the system,” he added, “we are more conservative.”
Joy Dong reported from Hong Kong.