At least 36 people were reported killed, dozens injured and some 70 people remained trapped in wreckage after a train carrying 350 people derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan.
The 408 Taroko Express derailed on Friday morning at Qingshui tunnel in Huaelin County after it collided with a truck according to the Taiwan Railways Administration. According to a preliminary investigation, the train hit a truck belonging to an engineering maintenance team, which had rolled onto the track.
Dozens of fire, search and rescue, and military vehicles and more than 150 personnel were dispatched to the scene, as rescue operations continued into the afternoon. The fire department said between 80 and 100 people had been evacuated from the front four carriages, while carriages five to eight were “deformed” and hard to access.
The express train was travelling south towards Taitung on first day of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping holiday, which sees extensive travel across the island.
Taiwan’s minister of transport and communications Lin Chia-lung said on Twitter he was on his way to the scene of the accident. “I have instructed the Taiwan Railways to set up a first-level disaster response center,” he said. “I am also rushing to the response center.”
Taiwan’s last major railway accident was in 2018 when a passenger train detailed, leaving 18 dead in Eastern Taiwan’s Yilan.