Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

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Home Global Activities Taiwan Train Horns Sound in Memory of Taroko Express Crash

Train Horns Sound in Memory of Taroko Express Crash

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At 9:28 (GMT+8) on April 8, a week after the #408 Taroko Express Train Crash, train across Taiwan sounded their horns in memory of the tragedy which claimed the lives of 50 people, including the train drivers. Today, all drivers of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) wore yellow ribbons on their chest to remember their colleagues who died in the line of duty.

Today, as is the custom in Taiwan, the funeral home in Hualien performed a ritual to mark the seven days since the deceased passed away. Since that tragic day, people from around the world have expressed their heartfelt condolences to all the families who lost loved ones and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

In response to the crash, the Tzu Chi Foundation mobilized all its resources -- volunteers, staff of the nearby Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, and Buddhist practitioners at the Jing Si Abode. They provided medical treatment, food, and all other items needed by the injured and those grieving with them. Volunteers comforted and listened to the families who lost loved ones; they held closely the hands of the injured; they gave them tissues to wipe away their tears and new face masks to replace those that had become too wet. Each day, according to the temperature, they prepared hot and cold drinks and hundreds of vegetarian meal-boxes. They collected all the re-useable boxes, chopsticks, and cups after use and washed and sanitized them. They set up temporary service stations, north and south of the crash site and at the funeral home, and responded to all the requests from the government, TRA, and everyone affected by the tragedy. They said prayers for the deceased and the injured passengers.

Work together with compassionate love

The headquarters of the Foundation, in Hualian county, is a short distance from the crash site. Less than an hour after the derailment, it established its disaster co-ordination unit and dispatched disaster response teams to the scene. "We saw people climbing off the train, looking shaken and disbelieving," said Chen Tzu-Chong, Tzu Chi team leader on site. Through incident command co-ordination, the Foundation set up service centers on-site and at two other places to receive passengers -- Xincheng Station and Chongde Station. These service centers provided food and water, PPE items, blankets, warm clothing, and gazebos, tents and foldable beds for privacy. As of April 7, the volunteers and Buddhist practitioners had provided nearly 3,000 hot meals for rescue teams, survivors and families.

The Foundation’s medical arm, the Hualian Tzu Chi Hospital, the only large-scale medical center on the east coast of Taiwan, activated its mass casualty protocols. It recalled all available staff to receive incoming patients. More than 200 patients were taken to six hospitals for assessment and treatment. The Tzu Chi Hospital accepted more than 50 patients, requiring different degrees of treatment.

The Foundation’s support teams, made up of social workers, volunteers, and Buddhist practitioners, were called up to provide psychological support for passengers and families. The Foundation has mobilized more than 2,600 volunteer shifts to assist unaccompanied survivors and families with transportation, funeral arrangements and financial assistance. The Foundation’s co-ordination unit has been in communications with the hospitals and funeral homes to ensure that people will not be lost or overlooked during this critical time.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen, who set up the Foundation, appealed to all: "The only way we can get through this tragic incident is by working together with compassionate love." The road to recovery will be long and arduous. The Foundation will continue to support those affected by the tragedy, with an immediate goal of helping to bring their loved ones home.