Termites behind train wreck that killed 5
Four cars of a train were derailed when a one-ton branch struck it on Taiwan's Alishan Forest Railway this week.
April 29th, 2011
07:14 AM ET

Termites behind train wreck that killed 5

Termites are responsible for a train crash in Taiwan that killed five Chinese tourists and injured more than 100 others, government officials said in a report on the state-run Taiwan Today website.

The accident happened Wednesday, when a 40-foot-long (12.5 meter) branch weighing one ton fell from a 90-foot-tall Mori oak tree less than 10 yards from the track of the narrow-gauge Alishan Forest Railway, striking a train and derailing four cars, according to the report.

Investigators dispatched by the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture determined that termites had eaten away the interior of the large branch, and with further stress on the tree from recent dry weather, it broke and fell on the train, the report said.

"The heavy branch fell because it was decayed inside," said one of the investigators, Wang Ya-nan, a professor at National Taiwan University, according to a report on the Focus Taiwan website.

“This natural phenomenon could not have been predicted or prevented,” the investigators said, according to Taiwan Today.

Service on the popular scenic mountain railway has been suspended for a week, Focus Taiwan said.

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Filed under: Taiwan • Travel • World
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Sutler

    That must have been some good wood.

    April 29, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Could just as easily been poor maintenance. Those Third World countries always have railway accidents. Look at India.

      April 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Choco monster

      Expect Chinese propagandists to try to belittle Taiwan and India as part of their global agenda.

      April 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      @ Richard. If you're insinuating that Taiwan is a Third World country than I suggest you do some research lol.

      April 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    Or bad wood, Sutler.
    This is a strange story...but for once Obama or God isn't being blamed. Yet.

    April 29, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Hey my sista! I had no idea termites could do so much damage. Dont have em where Im from but never seen em since i moved away either. My thoughts to the families of the victims.

    April 29, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jazzzzzzzzzz

    Not so strange considering that ants can carry X amount their times in weight. Still it is amazing what God gives all his creatures for survival.
    @ Banasy Hello my friend
    @ Raven Hello to as well my friend # 2 , he he

    April 29, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    Hey, sista of mine!

    Termites are nasty little buggers, but we don't have them around here much, either. I don't think, anyway...I've never heard of this kind of thing before...what a freak accident.

    My thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones, as well.

    April 29, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    Hello, Jazzy! Long time no see, my friend!

    April 29, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jazzzzzzzzzz

    Sorry Banasy I took a hiatus like everyone else during the down pour of TROLLS.

    April 29, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. meee

    Imps the same as termites?

    April 29, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joey

    @ TROLL @ trollcentral:
    I am willing to negotiate with you.
    I offer to limit my greetings to friends to brief amenities ("Hi" or "Hello"), and to remain On Topic or on relevant subjects..
    I ask that you, in return, post comments under one chosen name.
    Please consider my offer, which is only for myself.
    Perhaps all of us would agree on this settlement.
    I'm going to work now.
    Awaiting your reply,
    I remain,

    April 29, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. itsame

    this is why trees next to train tracks should be overly trimmed and maintained..

    April 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Just Saying

    Quote, “This natural phenomenon could not have been predicted or prevented,” the investigators said, according to Taiwan Today."

    Umm... What about trimming and clearing away from all train tracks? That way when something falls, it won't be over/near a train track...

    April 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mr meee


    April 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SK activist

    Taiwan pay top dollah for trains and this not happen. Why Taiwan buy cheap trains? Taiwan people sneaky and cheap!

    April 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • yasukuni

      should be a made in china train....

      May 26, 2011 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. popeye


    April 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paul Ingraham

    To Richard and SK Activist: Taiwan can hardly be considered a third world country anymore. Their railways are well maintained and use fine quality, modern equipment. The cars you see in the wreck photos are steel and only a few years old.
    The section of the Alishan line where the accident occurred had just been reopened after a rebuild following typhoon Morakot in 2009 and was in excellent condition.
    This was a freak accident that sort of "goes with the territory" of running through forested land that is environmentally protected. The same thing could happen on many tourist lines in the U.S. or elsewhere, so please withhold the "smartass" remarks and show some consideration for those who suffered in this accident.

    April 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
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