Taiwan train crash: At least 34 dead and dozens injured

Train derails in Taiwan, with at least 36 dead and many injured

Train derails in Taiwan, with at least 36 dead and many injured

At least 41 people have been killed and more than 60 injured after a Taiwanese train carrying nearly 500 passengers derailed in a tunnel on Friday.

Dozens more have been injured, with rescuers trying to access several badly damaged carriages.

A construction truck operated by the railway slid down a hillside and onto the track, Taiwan Railways Administration news officer Weng Hui-ping, said, causing the train to partially derail inside a mountain tunnel.

The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck's wreckage lying next to part of the derailed train.

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

Other Taiwan media said numerous people were standing at the time of the collision because the train was so crowded.

"Our train crashed into a truck", one man said in a video aired on Taiwanese television, showing pictures of the wreckage. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement saying "rescuing those trapped is our highest priority now".

"We see people coming off the train and they look shaken and nervous", said Chen Tzu-chong, a Tzu Chi team leader on site.

The accident occurred on Taiwan's eastern railway line around 9:30 am (0130 GMT). With the train still partly in a tunnel, survivors climbed out of windows and walked along the train's roof to reach safety after the country's deadliest railway disaster.

Many people may have been standing because the train was so full.

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Another live broadcast by UDN outside the tunnel showed at least two undamaged train carriages with rescuers helping passengers escape.

The train, from the capital Taipei to Taitung, was carrying people travelling for a long-weekend annual holiday.

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 roof of the train to leave the tunnel.

The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day hospital.

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 making its way down Huadong Valley.

The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018 and left 18 people dead at the southern end of the same line. More than 200 of the 366 people on board were also injured.

In 1981, 30 were killed in a collision in northern Taiwan, and in 1991 another 30 died in a train crash.

The official Central News Agency said a truck whose handbrake was not engaged was thought to have slid off a sloping road into the path of the train, and that police had taken in the driver for questioning.

"If there is a request from the Taiwan side regarding support, we want to consider possible assistance", he said.

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