Driver of fatal Taiwan train crash apologizes to relatives

Yu Cheng-chung, center, driver of the Puyuma Express train that derailed on October 21, kneels as he is escorted by relatives of victims who died in the accident during a memorial ceremony. (CNA / AFP)
Updated 31 October 2018
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Driver of fatal Taiwan train crash apologizes to relatives

  • It was the first time driver Yu Cheng-chung had spoken in public since the Puyuma Express derailed on October 21
  • ‘I’m sorry, this will be forever a pain in my heart’

TAIPEI: The driver of a train that derailed and killed 18 people this month apologized to victims’ families at an emotional memorial service in southern Taiwan Wednesday after being accused of “professional negligence” by a court.
It was the first time driver Yu Cheng-chung had spoken in public since the Puyuma Express derailed on October 21. He wept uncontrollably as he knelt and apologized at the memorial in Taitung county, home to 15 of the dead.
“I’m sorry, this will be forever a pain in my heart,” he said in footage aired on local television.
The crash on the popular east coast line also injured over 200 people and left the carriages lying zig-zagged across the tracks in the island’s deadliest rail accident for a quarter century.
Flags at government buildings in Taitung flew at half-mast in memory of the victims while Premier William Lai also attended the memorial service to pay his respects.
Relatives at the service appeared forgiving.
“Please don’t be like this, we don’t blame you,” one woman identified by local media by her family name Tung told Yu. She had lost eight family members in the crash.
“Let’s find out the truth together,” she said.
Yu is suspected of negligence for switching off the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system used to monitor speed before the train flipped off the tracks, according to initial findings by a local district court.
As the train approached Xinma station, the site of the crash, it was traveling at 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour) instead of the 80 kph speed limit imposed due to a curve in the track, said the Yilan district court which questioned Yu as part of his bail hearing last week.
A special cabinet task force has said its initial probe also showed that the ATP system was turned off at the time the train derailed and it was traveling at excessive speed.
The crash was the worst rail accident in Taiwan since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli in western Taiwan.


Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

Updated 20 June 2019
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Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

  • White House official said they are closely monitoring the situation
  • Houthi militants said they attacked a power station in Saudi Jizan province

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has been briefed about a missile strike on Saudi Arabia, the White House said Thursday, after Houthi militia claimed an attack on a power station in the kingdom’s south.
“The president has been briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies.”
There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from Saudi authorities.
Late Wednesday, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militants said they struck a power station in southern Jizan province, according to the group’s Al-Masirah TV.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the militia said a Houthi drone was intercepted over Yemeni airspace.
Last week, a Houthi missile attack on the international airport in southern Abha city left 26 civilians wounded, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.
Human Rights Watch denounced last week’s strike as an apparent “war crime,” urging the Houthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
The attacks come amid heightened regional tensions with Iran, which Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused of arming the militia with sophisticated weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
Following recent Houthi attacks, Saudi state media has reported the coalition was intensifying its air raids on the militia’s positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the militants closed in on his last remaining territory in and around second city Aden.
The conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 24 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the population — in need of aid.