Transport Minister offers resignation after deadly train crash

04/04/2021 02:40 PM
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Lin Chia-lung. CNA photo April 4, 2021
Lin Chia-lung. CNA photo April 4, 2021

Taipei, April 4 (CNA) Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) has offered a verbal resignation in the wake of a deadly train crash two days ago, the Cabinet spokesperson said Sunday.

In a phone call, Lin told Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) that he wished to step down, to take responsibility for the express train crash in eastern Taiwan that killed 51 people and injured about 200, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told reporters.

In response, Su commended Lin for wanting to show accountability but said that the focus right now is on repairing the railway line that was damaged during Friday's accident, according to Lo.

Dealing properly with the issues in the aftermath of the tragedy is also a way of taking responsibility, Su told the minister, and he declined to discuss the resignation offer at this time, Lo said.

A similar statement was made Sunday by the Presidential Office, according to spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵), who said that while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) approved of Lin's conscientiousness, she thought now was not the time to discuss the issue of resignation.

Prior to the statements from the president and premier, Lin told reporters Sunday that he would "shoulder the responsibility of keeping the damage from this accident to a minimum."

Lin said he would not shirk his duty and would take the required actions after the rescue and repair efforts are completed.

Workers pulling out sections of the train out of the tunnel. CNA photo April 4, 2021
Workers pulling out sections of the train out of the tunnel. CNA photo April 4, 2021

When asked if he had submitted a formal resignation, Lin said only that his priority was to minimize the damage caused by the train crash.

The accident occurred Friday at 9:28 a.m., when a southbound Taroko Express train, carrying 494 passengers and a crew of four, slammed into a crane truck on the tracks near the entrance to the Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien County.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train crashed into the wall of the tunnel, and the first five carriages derailed, killing 51 people and injuring nearly 200, the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) said.

Lin and Deputy Transportation Minister Chi Wen-jong (祈文中), who also serves as acting TRA director-general, are scheduled to report to lawmakers about the accident, in a legislative hearing on Wednesday.

(By Lee Shien-feng, Wang Shu-fen, Wang Cheng-chung and Chiang Yi-ching)

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