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

Passenger train crashes in eastern Taiwan, killing 36 and injuring dozens

Passenger train crashes in eastern Taiwan, killing 36 and injuring dozens

At least 41 people were killed and more than 60 injured after a Taiwanese train carrying nearly 500 passengers derailed in a tunnel on Friday when it apparently hit a truck that slid off a road leading to a nearby construction site.

The eight vehicle train, traveling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien Friday morning, causing several carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the government-run Central News Agency reported, citing the fire department.

A rescue mission is underway.

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 almost 200.

"There was a construction vehicle that didn't park properly and slid onto the rail track", Hualien county police chief Tsai Ding-hsien told reporters. The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck's wreckage lying next to part of the derailed train. "Rescuing those trapped is our highest priority now", she said.

The Central Emergency Operation Center gave a lower suspected death toll of 26 people showing no signs of life.

About 50 volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation stationed at an aid tent near the crash site said children were among the dozens who escaped the train cars so far.

'We broke the window to climb to the roof of the train to get out, ' she added.

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Media reported 350 passengers were on board.

With much of the train still trapped in the tunnel, escaping passengers were forced to scale doors, windows and roofs to reach safety.

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

Taiwan's eastern railway line is usually a popular tourist draw down its dramatic and less populated eastern coastline.

With the help of multiple tunnels and bridges, it winds its way through towering mountains and dramatic gorges before entering the picturesque Huadong Valley. Those were said to be the worst previous crashes on the railway system that dates from the late 19th century.

The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018 and left 18 people dead at the southern end of the same line.

Taiwan is a mountainous island where most of its 24 million people are squeezed onto flatlands along the northern and western coasts that is home to most of the island's farmland, biggest cities and high-tech industries.

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