Taiwan seeks arrest warrant for suspect in deadly train crash

Taiwan’s worst rail accident in seven decades occurred after an express train hit a truck that had slid down a bank next to the track.

Video Transcript

FLORENCE LOOI: Chung Hui-Mei survived the carnage, but lost her husband, her son, and her daughter. They were on their way to Hualien for the annual Tomb Sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese festival. She remembers hearing a loud bang just before the train entered the tunnel.

CHUNG HUI-MEI: [SPEAKING MANDARIN CHINESE]

INTERPRETER: It was like a living hell. Our carriage was mangled. Things had fallen off and piled on top of passengers. Shelves fell on top of me. It was dark.

FLORENCE LOOI: The train had crashed into a construction truck that had slid down a hill and onto the track just minutes earlier.

CHUNG HUI-MEI: [SPEAKING MANDARIN CHINESE]

INTERPRETER: I got hold of a mobile phone and turned on the torch to try to find my husband and children. I saw them, but there was nothing I could do to get them out. So many objects piled on top of them. I tried to remove some of the things such as iron bars, but there was just too much stuff. And when I did, a voice kept asking me not to move anything because it hurt him. So I just sat still.

FLORENCE LOOI: Chung was rescued an hour later. President Tsai Ing-Wen visited a hospital where dozens of the injured are being treated and promised a thorough investigation into the accident as well as government support to affected families.

TSAI ING-WEN: [SPEAKING MANDARIN CHINESE]

INTERPRETER: This distressing accident caused heavy casualties. I came to Hualien today to visit our wounded and express my sympathy to the families of the victims.

FLORENCE LOOI: Officials have said the driver may have failed to properly apply the brakes of the construction truck. Prosecutors have sought an arrest warrant for the manager of the company that carries out trackside maintenance. A court has released the man on a bond. Workers are still trying to remove the more heavily damaged sections of the train that remain inside the tunnel.

As Taiwan marks a second day of mourning, families of the crash victims gathered at the site of the disaster on Saturday to say prayers, conduct religious rites, and grieve for those they've lost. Florence Looi, Al Jazeera.