DFAT checks on Australians in Taiwan crash

Rescuers work at the site a day after a deadly train derailment at a tunnel north of Hualien Taiwan

A total of 118 people were injured, many of them transferred for treatment to several hospitals in the region or receiving first aid at nearby Chongde Railway Station.

Two large construction cranes could be seen drawn up next to the train, as workers examined and removed some parts in a remote wooded cliff area on the island's east coast.

Taiwan's most deadly rail disaster on record was in 1948 when a train caught fire and 64 people perished. The site's manager is suspected of having failed to properly engage the truck's brake.

The manager was released by a court on Saturday on bail of 500,000 Taiwanese dollars ($17,516) and is not allowed to leave the country.

The court said that while the truck's fall into the path of the train possibly resulted from negligence, there was "no possibility of conspiracy". Prosecutorial staff were visiting a mortuary Saturday to examine the bodies, office spokeswoman Chou Fang-yi said.

Tsai told reporters Friday that she asked the Transportation Safety Committee to conduct a strict investigation.

He could face charges of causing death by negligence and of forging documents and he said he was co-operating with investigators.

His lawyer told reporters that Lee wanted to face up to what had happened and was apologetic and expressed regret.

Meanwhile, victims' relatives visited the accident site Saturday afternoon to mourn the dead, some crying out "Come back!" and bringing personal belongings with them, like dolls.

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The train hit a truck as it entered the tunnel, causing two carriages to go off the rails.

President Tsai Ing-wen has instructed the authorities to continue the rescue activities and to fully investigate what caused the accident.

Meanwhile, recovery teams have begun removing the rear carriages of the train which were relatively unscathed.

The government has ordered flags flown at half mast for three days in mourning, while the de facto French embassy in Taipei confirmed that one of its citizens had died in the crash.

Media published on the site showed a yellow flatbed truck on its side, near the train.

In a rare sign of goodwill from China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, President Xi Jinping expressed his condolences over the crash, state news agency Xinhua said.

Many of those on the train are believed to have been travelling to celebrate Taiwan's Tomb Sweeping festival - a time when people pay their respects to the dead by visiting the graves of family members, sprucing them up and making offerings to their spirits.

Taiwan has no domestic travel curbs as the COVID-19 pandemic is well under control, with only 43 active cases in hospitals.

Taiwan's National Fire Agency confirmed the current death toll of 51 from the incident, which included the train's young driver, who was just recently married, according to CBS News.

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