The on-board camera images show that the truck entered the train driver’s view only about 250 meters (820 feet), or 6.9 seconds, before the collision.
The truck that caused Taiwan’s worst train crash in decades was on the line for just over a minute before being struck, officials said, as rescue crews worked to remove the most wagons. damaged.
At least 50 people were killed and more than 210 were injured in Friday’s crash, which sent a crowded eight-car train tumbling down the sides of a narrow tunnel near the eastern coastal town of Hualien.
Investigators said on Tuesday that the Taroko Express struck a rail maintenance truck on the line in a “head-on collision” moments before it entered the tunnel.
The vehicle slid down a steep embankment and prosecutors are working to determine whether the driver did not apply the parking brake or whether the truck suffered a mechanical failure.
Investigators made an update on Tuesday that revealed how close the victims were to averting disaster.
“It was a little over a minute between when the truck slipped on the track and the Taroko Express struck it, based on our initial estimate,” said Hong Young, chairman of the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board. .
Young told reporters that even though the train driver applied the brake, the speed of the train – it was traveling at about 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour – could not be reduced in seconds to avoid the collision.
He said it was clear from the train’s recording devices that the driver, who died in the crash, had taken the “necessary measures” and “he did his best in the hope of avoiding a disaster” .
Seconds of collision
Dashcam footage showed the truck suddenly appearing around a corner and the train crashing into it and then hitting the side of the tunnel.
Officials said the train would have required a distance of 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet), or 16.6 seconds, to come to a complete stop – but when the truck appeared, there were only about 250 meters (820 feet) or 6.9 seconds for act.
Friday’s accident took place at the start of the Tomb Sweeping Festival, a four-day public holiday when many Taiwanese return to villages to tidy up the graves of their ancestors.
Lee Yi-hsiang, the 49-year-old truck driver, was remanded in custody over the weekend, shortly after he apologized in tears to the media.
Lee was part of a contracted rail maintenance team that regularly inspects eastern Taiwan’s mountainous train line for landslides and other hazards.
On Tuesday, teams at the crash site managed to remove some of the most damaged cars that have lodged in the tunnel since the crash.
Two cars were released with angry scars of twisted metal on their sides.
The sprayed front car, where many fatalities have occurred, remains inside the tunnel.