Last train carriage removed from Qingshui Tunnel crash site
Hualien, April 7 (CNA) The final carriage of the Taroko Express train involved in a deadly crash on April 2 that left 50 people dead and more than 200 injured was removed from Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien County late Tuesday.
The first carriage of the eight-car train, which crashed into a maintenance truck that had fallen onto the tracks and then derailed and slammed into the wall of the tunnel, was hauled out from the tunnel by an excavator at 10:52 p.m.
As it emerged, a large portion of the front left of the carriage, running from the nose to behind the driver's compartment, could be seen missing, apparently shorn off by the impact of the collision.
After removing the carriage, workers paused to light incense and pray for the souls of the dead, before lifting the carriage back onto the tracks to be towed away.
Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who was at the site to oversee the work, expressed thanks in a Facebook post early Wednesday to the more than 100 crew members who worked in rotations around the clock to remove the damaged train cars.
Having cleared the tunnel, workers will now lay new tracks and railroad ties, replace signals and electrical equipment, and make any repairs required by a structural analysis of the tunnel, he said.
Lin also thanked the various charity and religious groups that have made donations and lent their assistance at the crash site, and said he hoped service on the affected rail line can be restored as soon as possible, once it is confirmed as safe.
As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, a notice on the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) website said service on the southbound track between Heren and Chongde stations where the accident occurred, was expected to resume on Friday morning.
In the interim, TRA is using the parallel northbound line to keep train service running on the east coast.
Friday's accident occurred at 9:28 a.m. and involved the No. 408 Taroko Express train, which was running southbound from Shulin in New Taipei to Taitung County in southeastern Taiwan.
An initial investigation has found that a crane truck belonging to contractor Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥) and located at a construction site above the southbound track, slid down an incline onto the track just minutes before the train approached.
The 50 fatalities resulting from the crash made it the deadliest railway accident in the country since 1948, according to the TRA.
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