In a letter to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, President Surangel Whipps Jr. expressed his “deepest condolences and prayers” for a deadly accident which occurred only hours after he returned from his visit to Taiwan.
On Friday morning, an express train north of Hualien City on Taiwan’s east coast was struck by an unmanned truck belonging to a nearby construction site. The collision caused the train to derail, killing at least 50 passengers, including the driver, and injuring over 200.
“Online accounts and pictures show people scrambling to get away from the scene of the accident, whose devastation continues to unfold as emergency crews rush to aid,” the President’s letter says.
Investigations are looking into what caused the truck to slide down the incline and fall into the train’s path. The owner of the truck and manager of the construction site has been arrested, and has issued a public apology and said he is deeply remorseful for what occurred.
President Whipps’ letter notes that the incident is even more devastating because it occurred on the first day of the Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, a holiday during which many people travel to visit and pay respects to family gravesites.
President Whipps had returned the night before from his four-day trip to Taiwan to promote the Palau-Taiwan travel bubble, arriving at Palau International Airport with his delegation and 110 tourists.
During his visit, President Whipps met with President Tsai in the presidential office, where he called attention to Taiwan’s help in developing infrastructure, education, healthcare, and agriculture in Palau, as well as to the two nations’ shared values and Austronesian culture.
President Whipps’ letter asks President Tsai to accept “the assurances of my highest consideration”.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since released a statement expressing thanks for messages of condolences from 92 countries and international organizations and over 745 heads of state, foreign ministers, officials and political figures in regards to the April 2nd accident.
“Thanks again to our friends around the world for bringing words of comfort in this time of grief and holding out a helping hand in our hour of need,” the statement reads. “In time we will emerge again, shoulder to shoulder, through this dark time back into the light.”

epa09112764 Rescuers remove the wreckage of a yellow truck that hit the train which derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, 03 April 2021. According to news reports 51 people died and many others were injured when a train carrying 490 people derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan on 02 April. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO

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