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Over 200 items retrieved from train carriages in deadly 2021, 2018 crashes

09/21/2023 07:44 PM
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Investigators examine the wreckage of the Puyuma Express train detailed in Yilan in 2018 in this photo released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Yilan Prosecutors Office Sept. 21, 2023
Investigators examine the wreckage of the Puyuma Express train detailed in Yilan in 2018 in this photo released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Yilan Prosecutors Office Sept. 21, 2023

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) More than 200 "non-train related items," recently retrieved from carriages involved in two deadly train crashes in 2018 and 2021, and believed to belong to victims, have been listed online by Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) with the hope that they can be claimed by family members.

In a statement, the TRA said on Thursday that a task force composed of law enforcement and Transportation Safety Board (TSB) personnel found more than 200 items after several rounds of searches conducted earlier in September of carriages involved in two major deadly train accidents -- the Puyuma Express No. 6432 derailment on Oct. 21, 2018 in Yilan County and the Taroko Express No. 408 crash on April 2, 2021 in Hualien County.

A total of 18 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the Puyuma Express derailment, while the Taroko Express crash claimed the lives of 49 people and injured over 200.

A total of 170 items were discovered in the carriages of the Taroko Express train during recent searches at a TRA depot in Keelung's Qigu District (first to sixth carriages) and another depot in Taoyuan's Fugang (seventh and eighth carriages) on Sept. 1, 4, and 5, while another 35 items, 13 small pieces of broken bone, and an alleged tooth, were collected from the Puyuma Express carriages in Yilan.

A follow-up inspection of the Puyuma Express was conducted at Fugang depot on Sept.11, by Yilan prosecutors, while the Taroko Express carriages were searched by a team led by Taoyuan and Keelung prosecutors at Fugang and Qigu depots on Sept. 12, according to the TRA.

On Sept. 15, the TRA carried out a final cleanup of the eight Puyuma Express carriages at Fugang depot, while on Sept. 18, a final inspection of the Taroko Express' eight carriages was conducted at Fugang and Qigu depots, TRA said, noting that the two most recent inspections were conducted with all parties concerned present, including families of the victims.

The recent searches of the two trains conducted in September stemmed from the finding of what was believed to be a human bone, along with a tooth and 56 "non-train related items" during a Sept. 4 inspection of carriages belonging to the Tarogo Express train.

The bone fragment and tooth are being examined by the Institute for Forensic Medicine to identify the victims.

The discovery came after Angela Wang (王薇君), spokeswoman of the Taroko Tears group which represents the families of those who died, found what was alleged to be part of a human skull on Aug. 31 while paying her respects to those who perished in the accident at a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications at Fugang depot.

Sept. 7: TRA apologizes after human remains found in 2021 train crash carriage

Sept. 5: Suspected bones, tooth found on Taroko Express train two years after crash

The finding of human remains and personal items two years after the 2021 crash shocked the nation, prompting the Executive Yuan to pass a resolution on Sept. 6 amid widespread criticism of the poor handling of follow-up work by related government agencies.

In line with the Executive Yuan resolution, law enforcement agents and TSB personnel are henceforth required to clean up crushed train carriages and keep a detailed record of all items found before returning the carriages to the TRA.

If the carriages are to be exhibited for educational purposes, the TRA must invite all agencies concerned and the families of the victims to conduct a final full inspection to ensure no "non-train related items" remain, according to the TRA.

(By Flor Wang and S.F. Wang)


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