Taipei, April 3 (CNA) A crane truck believed to be responsible for the deadliest accident involving a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train in seven decades on Friday is said to be within 15 minutes of the unfortunate Taroko Express pulling into the track his tunnel fell, said the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) on Saturday.
The ministry reached this conclusion because another Tze-chiang express for Hualien passed the same location at 9:13 a.m. before the No. 408 Taroko Express train reached the vehicle at 9:28 a.m., the deputy MOTC said -Minister Wang Kwo -tsai (王國 材).
This information could be helpful in the investigation effort, since no surveillance cameras were found on the spot, Wang said.
At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, the death toll in the Qingshui Tunnel train crash in Hualien remained at 50.
Among them, 48 passengers, including a French national, as well as the engine driver and his assistant, were killed when the Taroko Express train they were traveling on slammed into the crane truck as it entered the tunnel. The other two people died after being taken to hospitals.
Another 40 people are staying in six hospitals in the hospital, the ministry said. According to Wang, four of them are in critical condition.
The rescue mission continues, the National Fire Agency said, adding that there may be more bodies in the third and sixth wagons.
Meanwhile, the last two cars on the eight-car train have been towed, while the removal of the sixth car will take some time before the badly damaged line can be repaired, Wang said.
The No. 408 Taroko Express train, which departed from Shulin Station in New Taipei at 7:16 am and went to Taitung County in southeastern Taiwan, carried 488 passengers and four TRA employees.
The first five cars on the train derailed and piled up in the narrow, single-lane tunnel, the MOTC said.
While the investigation is ongoing, the crane truck, which was parked on a hill above the track, is likely to slide down the hill and fall onto the track because its emergency brake was not properly applied, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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