Taiwan train crash leaves 36 dead, several injured

Taiwan train crash

This handout picture taken and released on April 2, 2021 by the New Taipei City Fire Department shows rescue team members at the site where a train derailed inside a tunnel in the mountains of Hualien, eastern Taiwan.

Taiwan's last major rail crash was in October 2018 when an express train derailed while rounding a tight corner on the northeast coast, killing at least 18 people and injuring approximately 175.

Rescue efforts continue to free those who are still trapped in the tunnel.

Weng said a construction truck operated by the railway administration slid onto the track from a work site on the hillside above. More than 200 of the 366 people on board were also injured.

"This is our initial understanding and we are clarifying the cause of the incident", he added.

Images of the crash scene show train carriages ripped apart and crumpled against the sides of the tunnel, preventing rescuers from reaching passengers.

The crash occurred near the Toroko Gorge scenic area on the first day of a long holiday weekend when many people were using trains on Taiwan's extensive rail system.

The eight-car train was making its way from Taipei to the southeastern city of Taitung and was carrying some 350 passengers, the rescue centre said.

Passengers in some carriages still in the tunnel had to be led to safety, the railway administration said.

"Our train crashed into a truck", one man said in a video on Taiwan television that showed pictures of the wreckage.

Taiwan train crash

"It felt like there was a sudden violent jolt and I found myself falling to the floor", one female survivor told Taiwan's UDN.

Images showed an injured passenger carried away on a stretcher, with her head and neck in a brace, while others gathered suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage as some walked on the train's roof to exit the tunnel.

During the festival, people return to ancestral villages to tidy up the graves of their relatives and make offerings.

The lightly populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal railway lines to avoid treacherous mountain roads.

The Japanese government said Friday the country is ready to consider helping Taiwan if requested following a deadly train accident on the island that resulted in dozens of casualties.

The driver of the eight-carriage train was later charged with negligent homicide.

In 1981, a collision in western Taiwan killed 30 people and injured 112 in what was previously its deadliest train accident.

The train smashed into the truck while it emerged.

Another crash in 1961 killed 48, while a 1978 crash left 41 dead.

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