6 mainland tourists die in Taiwan train accident

08:40, April 28, 2011      

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Police guard the scene of a train accident in Taiwan's Ali Mountain yesterday after it overturned, killing at least six Chinese mainland tourists. The accident, which occurred at 12:17pm, also left 61 people injured, 23 seriously. Officials with the fire agency in Chiayi County say a falling tree hit the last carriage and then caused several carriages to derail and overturn.

A POPULAR tourist train overturned yesterday in a mountainous region of southern Taiwan, killing at least six tourists from China's mainland.

The accident also left 61 people injured, 23 seriously. More than 50 of the injured are members of five mainland tour groups.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said the accident occurred after a large tree fell into the path of the oncoming train.

"I feel very grieved by the accident," he said, adding that a thorough investigation would be carried out.

Witnesses say branches from a tree fell on to the line, striking the last carriage as it passed and causing several carriages to overturn.

Seven helicopters have been dispatched to the accident site and the injured have been sent to hospitals in Chiayi.

According to Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, five mainland tour groups comprising 130 people were on the eight-carriage train.

Lee Tao-Sheng, deputy director with the Taiwan Forestry Bureau, said that each carriage can hold 80 people. The volume at the time of yesterday's accident was about 50 people in each carriage.

Chen Mei-hsiu, an official with the Tourism Bureau, said that there would be insurance payouts of at least NT$2 million (US$69,348) for each of the six deaths. Taiwan officials have pledged to help relatives of the tourists to come to the island.

Meanwhile, some mainland survivors are busy searching their family members separated in the accident.

A woman, surnamed Chen who is injured in the accident, asked staff at a Chiayi hospital to help find her mother-in-law.

And a 63-year-old man from Sichuan Province urged medical staff to find his wife as he received emergency treatment for a head wound at the same hospital. The man, identified as Xue, said his wife was more badly injured, but he had no idea where she was.

The narrow-gauge Ali Mountain rail line, running east from the southern city of Chiayi, corkscrews through a series of steep mountains and has long been one of Taiwan's premier tourist attractions.

Most of the line has been closed since a devastating typhoon struck Taiwan in August 2009, but a small portion near the top has been reopened.

A similar train accident occurred near yesterday's nine years ago, killing 17 and injuring more than 150 people.

Ali Mountain has been especially popular among mainland tourists.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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