Taiwan train derails in tunnel, reportedly killing 36 people
A passenger train carrying an estimated 350 people derailed in eastern Taiwan on Friday morning, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens more, the authorities said, marking the island's deadliest rail accident in decades. Around 72 people have been injured in the accident, according to Taiwan's Railway Police. Here are more details on this.
The accident occurred at 9:28 am on Friday
The eight-car train had been traveling from the Taipei area to the eastern coastal city of Taitung when the accident occurred at 9:28 am in a tunnel located north of Hualien, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung said. The train came off the rails causing several carriages to hit the walls of the tunnel, the government-run Central News Agency reported.
Train apparently collided with a construction vehicle
Taiwanese local media reported that the train apparently collided with a construction vehicle, leading to the derailment. In fact, a yellow trailer vehicle could be seen lying on its side next to the derailed train at the tunnel entrance in the videos that have surfaced from the accident spot. Photos circulating on social media also suggested the train suffered serious damage.
60 people safely evacuated; train driver missing
The Taiwan Railways Administration said that it has launched an investigation. Meanwhile, local media reports said that the train driver has been missing. Around 60 people have been safely evacuated from the first three cars, according to the Central News Agency. Transportation Minister Lin informed that he has ordered officials to prepare a disaster response center to manage the situation.
Heartbreaking incident, said the Taiwanese President
Reportedly, the Taroko Express is one of the fastest train services in Taiwan and typically travels at around 80 miles per hour. Today was the start of the annual "Tomb Sweeping" holiday, a time when Taiwan sees a surge in travel. Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan, called it a "heartbreaking incident" in a tweet this morning.
A 2018 train mishap had killed 18 people in Taiwan
This is the deadliest rail mishap to take place in Taiwan in several decades. In 2018, a Puyuma Express train had derailed in the island's Yilan County, reportedly killing 18 people and injuring 170. Back in 1981, a train collision in Miaoli County, located in the island's northwest region, had claimed the lives of 31 people.