His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Sunder offered a message of condolence to the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, after learning of the deadly train crash in Taiwan’s Hualien County on 2 April that resulted in the deaths of 50 people.
“I would like to offer my condolences to Your Excellency and to those families who have lost loved ones as well as others affected by this most unfortunate accident,” the Dalai Lama wrote in a letter to President Tsai. “The Taiwanese people have long been close to my heart. When incidents like this occur, it is as if a calamity has befallen us all.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama of Tibet)
A spokesperson for the Presidential Office, Xavier Chang, confirmed that President Tsai had received the letter and added that the president had thanked His Holiness for his concern and blessings for Taiwan. The president had prayed that the power of religion might soothe the pain of so many people in the wake of the tragedy, he said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that as of midday on Sunday, it had received more than 745 messages conveying concern and condolences from 92 international organizations and countries in response to Taiwan’s worst rail accident in 70 years.
At least 50 people were killed and 211 injured on Friday last week after the Taroko Express No. 408 train, carrying 496 people from New Taipei, was derailed at 9:28am local time as it passed through Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien County. A preliminary investigation of the incident has found that a construction crane truck slid onto the track a little more than a minute before being struck by the train, which was traveling at 126 kilometers per hour.
After days of search and rescue efforts, which have including removing carriages and clearing debris from the crash site, the final train car was reported to have been removed from Qingshui Tunnel late on Tuesday.
Investigators have estimated that the stranded truck did not come into the driver’s field of view until the train was about 200 meters away. Video footage from the train’s dashcam released today showed that the driver of the train, who was also killed in the collision, had less than seven seconds to respond.
The accident has been met with widespread mourning across Taiwan and public donations to the victims and their families have reportedly exceeded more than US$2.1 million. The packed train was traveling south on the first day of the four-day Qingming religious festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, when many Taiwanese people return to their hometowns to tend the graves of departed family members.
Among those who lost their lives are entire families, children as young as five, and people who died while trying to protect their loved ones. Of the injured, 35 were reported to remain in hospital as of Tuesday night, including three people in critical condition.
Condolences over Taiwan Train Crash (His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama of Tibet)
Dalai Lama offers condolences to Taiwan after tragic train accident (Taiwan News)
Last car from wrecked Taiwan train removed from tunnel (Taiwan News)
Video shows Taiwan train driver had only 7 seconds to stop (Taiwan News)
Truck slid onto tracks a minute before collision (Taipei Times)