At least 36 people died and more than 70 injured in Taiwan after a train derailed near Hualien city, Reuters reported on Friday. The government said that the train derailed after hitting a truck.
In a statement, the fire department said the train, travelling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel north of Hualien that led to some carriages hitting the wall of the tunnel. The train was carrying about 350 people and rescue efforts are ongoing, the statement said.
About 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, the fire department added. More than 40 passengers have been admitted to hospitals and around 70 are reported to be trapped inside the train.
State-owned Central News Agency said that the truck that collided with the train was “not parked properly”. It is suspected that the truck slid into the path of the train. Photos provided by the fire department showed what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage near the train, according to Reuters.
Images also showed passengers gathering their belongings and others walking along the tracks. An injured passenger, with her head and neck in a brace, could also be seen in the pictures being evacuated on a stretcher.
Taiwan media reported that many people, who were standing as the train was full, were thrown about when it crashed. The accident took place on the first day of the Tomb Sweeping Festival, a four-day annual celebration in which people travel to their homes for family gathering and for worshipping their ancestors, reported AP.
Friday’s train derailment is the worst rail disaster in at least four decades in Taiwan. In 1981, 30 people were killed and 112 injured in a collision in western Taiwan. The last major accident in the country was in October 2018, when a train derailed, killing at least 18 people and injuring about 200.