Speed control on Taiwan train ‘malfunctioned’ before deadly accident

The disaster was Taiwan’s deadliest rail accident since a 1981 collision that killed 30 people. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Speed control on Taiwan train ‘malfunctioned’ before deadly accident

  • The train came off the rails on a curve while moving at close to 140 kilometers per hour
  • Derailments are not uncommon in Taiwan, but deadly accidents are rare

YILAN, Taiwan: A speed control system was not functioning when a train in Taiwan crashed killing 18 people and injuring 187, in the island’s worst rail disaster in decades, a top investigator said on Tuesday.
It was not clear whether the system, called automatic train protection, had switched off by itself or had been manually disabled before the accident on Sunday, the head of a government-led investigation team, Wu Ze-cheng, said.
“If the train was above the speed limit, the system should automatically slow it down. It seems like the system had failed. Why? We need more investigation,” Wu said.
The train came off the rails on a curve while moving at close to 140 kilometers per hour, above the speed limit of 74 kph, Wu said.
More investigation was needed to determine the cause, he added.
The driver of the train, You Zhen-zhong, 48, was granted bail of T$500,000 ($16,167) on Tuesday after being detained for investigation, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.
You had been treated in hospital following the accident in Yilan county, in the island’s mountainous northeast.
The train data recorder, which tracks speed, among other things, had been sent to prosecutors to be examined.
The disaster was Taiwan’s deadliest rail accident since a 1981 collision that killed 30 people.
The head of the state railway administration, Lu Jie-shen, had offered to resign but that was not accepted by the transport minister, the railway authority said.
Premier William Lai apologized for the accident on behalf of the government.
“People expected the railway to be the safest,” Lai told parliament.
“I apologize to the people on behalf of the Executive Yuan,” he said, referring to the island’s cabinet.
Train derailments are not uncommon on the island, which has rough, mountainous terrain, but deadly accidents are rare.


US orders restriction on e-cigarette sales; youth use surges

Updated 1 min 5 sec ago
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US orders restriction on e-cigarette sales; youth use surges

  • The proposed regulations announced by the FDA would allow flavored e-cigarettes products to be sold in stores only, not online

WASHINGTON: US regulators Thursday ordered sharp restrictions on sales of e-cigarettes, as national data showed a 78 percent single-year surge in vaping among young people, with two-thirds using fruit and candy-flavored products.
The proposed regulations announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow flavored e-cigarettes products to be sold in stores only, not online, and would also ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars.
The changes will be open to a public comment period lasting until June before they would take effect.
“These data shock my conscience,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, referring to the latest data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
“From 2017 to 2018, there was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students,” he said.
“These increases must stop. And the bottom line is this: I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.”
The proposed FDA rules aim to restrict sales of all flavored vaping cartridges — other than tobacco, mint and menthol — to sales at “age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification,” said an FDA statement.
The reason mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes are not included is they are more popular with adults who may be using them to decrease or stop their use of traditional cigarettes.
“This reflects a careful balancing of public health considerations,” Gottlieb said.
“Data suggests that mint- and menthol-flavored ENDS are more popular are more popular with adults than with kids.”
At the same time, the FDA announced a proposal to ban menthol in combustible cigarettes and cigars.
“I’m deeply concerned about the availability of menthol-flavored cigarettes,” Gottlieb said.
“I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes,” he said, adding that “menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities.”