Around 36 people have been reportedly killed and some 70 remain trapped in wreckage after a Taiwan train derailed in a tunnel on Friday when it apparently hit a truck.
Information available to Vantage News indicates that the crash, which also injured more than 40 passengers, is the island’s worst rail disaster in four decades.
The train, an express travelling from Taipei to Taitung carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend, for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day, came off the rails north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan, the fire department said.
The train was carrying around 350 people, the fire department said. Taiwan media said many people were standing as the train was so full, and were thrown about when it crashed.
More than 40 people have already been taken to hospital and others injured are in the process of being taken to hospital, with around 70 reported trapped in train carriages.
Between 80 to 100 people were evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight have “deformed” and are hard to gain access to, it added.
Images showed an injured passenger being stretched out of the crash scene, her head and neck in a brace, passengers gathering suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage and others walking along the tracks littered with wreckage.
Some passengers walked out of the tunnel on the roof of the train, trailing their suitcases and bags behind, then climbed down between carriages to be greeted by rescuers.
Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination, and the railway line from Taipei down the east coast is renowned for its tunnels and route that hugs the coast just north of Hualien where the crash occurred.
The line connecting Taipei with Hualien was only opened in 1979.
In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan. In 1981, 30 were killed in a collision in northern Taiwan.