At least 36 people feared dead after train derails in E Taiwan

Taiwan train derails in tunnel reportedly killing 36 people

Taiwan train derails in tunnel reportedly killing 36 people

At least 36 people have been killed after a train derailed inside a tunnel in Taiwan following a collision with a truck. A woman's voice can be heard shouting, "Carriage four, has everyone come out?"

Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung told reporters on the scene that the train was carrying about 490 people - higher than an earlier fire department figure of 350.

The official Central News Agency said a truck that was "not parked properly" was suspected of sliding into the path of the train from a nearby construction site.

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

Images show a large, yellow flatbed truck lying at the side of the tracks.

President Tsai Ing-wen's office said she had ordered hospitals to prepare for a mass casualty event.

The accident occurred on Taiwan's eastern railway line around 9:30 am (0130 GMT).

Taiwanese local media reported that the train apparently collided with a construction vehicle, leading to the derailment.

A brief video released by the centre inside the tunnel showed rescuers arriving on the scene and one twisted carriage door.

"We broke the window to climb to the roof of the train to get out".

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Officials in Hualien county said rescue efforts were continuing.

The train was en route from the northern part of the island to the southeastern city of Taitung.

Dozens of tourists were said to be onboard, many of whom were celebrating the annual Tomb Sweeping festival.

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

Taiwan's mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination.

With the help of multiple tunnels and bridges, it winds its way through towering mountains and dramatic gorges before entering the picturesque Huadong Valley.

The train involved in Friday's accident, the Toroko No 408 is one of Taiwan's newer models and requires tickets to be reserved in advance with no standing allowed.

In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan, in the island's worst rail disaster in more than three decades.

Meanwhile, local media reports said that the train driver has been missing. Authorities say at least 41 people have lost their lives and more than 60 are injured. The train smashed into the truck while it emerged.

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