At least 36 killed after train derails in Taiwan

Ross Houston
April 2, 2021

A passenger train smashed into a vehicle on its tracks and partially derailed outside a rail tunnel in Taiwan on Friday, and police said at least 34 people were killed and dozens injured.

The train was carrying around 350 people, and rescue efforts are ongoing, the department said.

The train is an express travelling from Taipei to Taitung carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend.

Another live broadcast by local news network UDN showed at least two undamaged train carriages outside the tunnel with rescuers helping passengers escape.

Taiwan's Transport and Communications Minister Lin Xia-lung said on Twitter that he was on his way to the crash site.

Between 80 to 100 people have been 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.

"Is everyone out in carriage four?" a lady is heard shouting from inside the tunnel, in images provided by the fire department.

Television footage and photos posted by people at the scene on the website of the official Central News Agency showed people climbing out the open door of a railcar just outside the entrance to the tunnel.

The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck's wreckage lying next to the derailed train. "The truck came falling down".

The AP reported that a truck somehow fell off a cliff and landed directly in front of the tunnel.

The accident occurred on Taiwan's eastern railway line around 9:30 am (0130 GMT) near the coastal city of Hualien.

The accident occurred at the start of the busy annual Tomb Sweeping festival, a long holiday weekend when Taiwan's roads and railways are usually packed.

The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018 and left 18 people dead at the southern end of the same line.

Taiwan's Eastern Railway is a popular tourist destination because of its spectacular coastline and scenery.

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