Taiwan Train Blast Injures 24 People: Rail, Airport, And Port Security Beefed Up

Multiple blasts inside a train in Taiwan on Thursday has injured at least 24 people, four of them seriously. One of the victims is a 14-year-old boy who sustained second- and third-degree burns on his face.

The train was traveling from Taipei to Keelung in northern Taiwan, which is a three-hour-long journey. The blasts occurred at Songshan railway station in what is being believed to be the worst train blast in Taipei. Images from inside the train show shattered glass and walls blackened by the flames. The blasts happened at 10 p.m. local time inside the sixth carriage of the train.

The blasts inside the cabin caused it to burst into flames, and the authorities were notified immediately. Reportedly, more than 10 ambulances and 10 fire engines were dispatched to the scene to rescue the victims and to douse the flames. A video showing the aftermath of the explosions was posted on udn.com’s Facebook page.

National Police Agency Director-General Chen Kuo-en told reporters this is not an act of terrorism. The Straits Times reports that witnesses apparently heard three blasts before the cabin burst into flames. They also mentioned that a suspicious man in his 40s walked into the cabin and left a black bag behind moments before the explosion. Taiwanese police officers are on the hunt for this suspect already. The fire inside the cabin has been put out.

Chen said that the police have recovered a black object between 15 centimeters and 20 centimeters in length under a seat. He added that it looked like a firecracker and contained gun powder inside. The Criminal Investigation Bureau and National Security Bureau are already working in tandem to find more clues inside the cabin, and they are also inspecting the long, black object suspected to be the explosive. While the authorities investigate the incident, equipment failure has already been ruled out as the cause for the train blasts. Moreover, the police also confirmed that they did not receive any threats before the blasts.

The Taiwan train blasts have resulted in the rail, airport, and port security being beefed up in the country. The official Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) Facebook page has posted that it has instructed security agencies to exercise extra caution in and around ports, railway stations, and airports to prevent the possibility of another attack.

The TRA said in another update on Facebook that the injured victims have been taken to different hospitals across the city. However, three injured persons have sought their own medical attention.

Taiwan train blast injured victims

One of the passengers inside the train told a local news channel, “There was a blast and the carriage went dark. People were panicking and screaming.”

Another woman added, “I saw fire from the lights and I heard a sound and my hair was on fire.”

Additionally, Tung Chen-yuan, a cabinet spokesman, stated that the self-ruled island’s Premier Lin Chuan has ordered the relevant government agencies to work as a team to investigate the explosion. He has also promised that all the victims will get the best medical attention. Chuan has asked the Taiwanese people to “be at ease” as the security has already been strengthened across various spots in the city.

Lin told journalists, “It looks like someone did it on purpose. We will make our best efforts to investigate this case. Please be rest assured that we will provide effective and efficient security for all passengers.”

This is not the first attack inside a train in Taiwan. In 2013, on a high-speed train in Hsinchu, a train blast had injured at least two commuters. A year later, in 2014, a college student went on a stabbing spree inside a Taipei metro. The entire island was shocked by this news and promptly overhauled the security of public transport systems in the city.

[Photo by Jerry Chen/AP Images]