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Officials say the truck that caused Taiwan’s worst train crash in decades was on the track for just over a minute before being hit, as salvage crews worked to remove the most severely damaged carriages.

A packed eight-car train slammed into the sides of a narrow tunnel near the eastern coastal city of Hualien on Friday, killing at least 50 people and injuring more than 210 others.

Investigators said on Tuesday that the Taroko Express collided head-on with a railway maintenance truck on the line just before entering the tunnel.

Prosecutors are investigating whether the driver failed to secure the parking brake or whether the truck suffered a mechanical failure after it slid down a steep embankment.

On Tuesday, investigators provided an update that showed how close the victims came to a tragedy.

“There was a little over one minute between when the truck slid to the track and the Taroko Express hit it, according to our initial estimate,” said Taiwan Transportation Safety Board chairman Hong Young.

Young told reporters that despite the train driver applying the brakes, the train’s speed – which was about 120 kilometres (74 miles) per hour – could not be lowered in time to prevent the collision.

According to the train’s recording devices, the driver, who died in the accident, took the “correct precautions” and “tried his best in the hope of preventing a catastrophe,” he said.


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