The incident occurred on April 2, 2021, at 9 am local time in a mountainous area. The train was traveling towards Taitung, a city in southeastern Taiwan. Railways are highly utilized in Taiwan as transportation mean and are considered relatively safe. The train that was involved in the unfortunate incident could reach speeds of 130km/h.
The railway which carried 8 carriages impacted a construction vehicle that was unintentionally left at the rails in front of the entrance of the tunnel and crashed into its walls. Many people were standing by the time of the crash as the train was fully occupied, a fact that was later criticized by the public.
The carriages were severely damaged with 50 people reported dead (the driver of the train was among them). In particular, 4 out of the 8 carriages derailed inside the tunnel. According to reports, many victims were trapped under their seats and unable to find a way out. The passengers in the subsequent carriages were base to evacuate the train and return to safety.
A rescue operation began to find survivors and pull them out of the train. On the following day, rescue teams began to remove the crashed carriages from the site.
An investigation on the causes of the train crash is underway by Taiwan officials. The construction site manager who was in charge of the lorry that was found in the rails and impacted the train, was found and questioned over the incident. He offered his most "sincere apologies" to the victims of the incident and stated that he would receive any responsibility he "should take". Authorities suggest that the construction vehicle slid to the rails because the emergency brake was not employed or because some mechanical failure occurred. The lorry was used in inspection works conducted to derive potential landslide phenomena near the rails.
Officials also mentioned that the driver of the train could not have avoided the collision since there was not enough time to stop the train after he noticed the vehicle on the tracks. “It’s believed the train driver might have only had 10 seconds at most to react and there was not enough distance to emergency brake,” Hong Young, chair of the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board, stated.
The government will offer financial support to the families of the victims. In particular, each family will receive $185,500. People injured and heavily injured will be granted $14,000 and $91,000 compensations, respectively.
The train crash is one of the most disastrous accidents that have occurred in Taiwan for decades and raises alerts over transportation safety issues.