TAIWAN: A train derailment that happened this morning in Taiwan inside a tunnel killed at least 34 people. The eight-carriage train was carrying around 350 passengers and more than 72 are injured, said the local transport ministry.
Local sources said that the train derailed at around 09:00 local time (01:00 GMT) as the train was traveling from the capital Taipei to Taitung. The accident occurred when a maintenance vehicle fell onto the path of the train, as per local media reports. Local media say the eight-carriage train hit a construction vehicle that had slipped onto the tracks.
Pictures of people in unaffected carriages walking along train tracks with their belongings and of a large, yellow flatbed truck lying at the side of the tracks are doing the rounds on the internet.
Many of the train travelers are believed to be tourists who were on their way to celebrate the Tomb Sweeping festival – a time when people visit the graves of family and friends, sprucing them up and making offerings to their spirits. The accident occurred during a typically high traffic period as this is the start of the Tomb Sweeping Festival and many people travel to pay their respects to the dead. Many people on the train were standing because the train was so full.
An unidentified female survivor told Taiwan’s UDN that she experienced a sudden violent jolt and fell to the floor within seconds of the incident. The fire department in a statement said that 100 people were evacuated from four of the train’s carriages. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said that a number of people are still trapped inside the train and that rescuing those trapped is their highest priority. The president added that emergency rescue mechanisms have been put in place for the sick and injured.
The Friday morning crash appears to be one of Taiwan’s worst accidents in decades as the last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018, which left 18 people dead. However, the island’s worst crash in recent history was dated 1991, with 30 passengers dead and 112 injured after two trains collided.