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At least 51 dead as Taiwan train derails in tunnel Taiwan practice crash: dozens useless after specific service derails in tunnel | Taiwan
Cecil Davis | 04 April, 2021, 18:40

A busy passenger train carrying 490 people has derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan, killing at least 50 and injuring dozens more, authorities said.

The derailment may have been caused by a vehicle that slipped from a slope near the tunnel and hit the moving train, causing several carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the government-run Central News Agency (CNA) reported, citing information from the fire department.

Survivors described their terror as the train slammed into the truck and ground to a halt.

The train was carrying almost 500 passengers traveling from Taipei, Taiwan's capital city, to Taitung when it was derailed in the city of Hualien, leaving 41 passengers hospitalized among the 188 reported injured.

Authorities earlier said 51 people had died before revising the figure down to 50. An investigation has been launched, and Hualien police have interviewed one person, Weng said.

Workers began removing some of the train cars.

She had told him that many passengers were crying and screaming, and some passengers' legs had been crushed by luggage.

"There were many people pressed under the seats and others on top of those seats too", she said.

In a tweet, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said emergency services "have been fully mobilised to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident".

"I hope the deceased can rest in peace and the wounded can recover soon".

"We offer our deep condolences to the victims of the accident and express our sympathies to all those involved", Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a news conference in Tokyo.

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According to local news website UDN, the train driver is among those dead, with images showing the front of the train inside the tunnel had been pulverised into a twisted mesh of metal.

Footage released by the Taiwan Red Cross showed specialists with helmets and headlights had to use the roof of the stricken train to reach people inside the narrow single-track tunnel.

Due to a long history of deadly earthquakes, Taiwan has experienced rescue teams on permanent standby to deal with disasters and retrieve trapped people.

Those sitting in the back of the train seemed to have relatively survived.

"I felt a sudden, violent shake and fell to the ground", a woman told a television station.

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

The railway line in eastern Taiwan is a very popular tourist destination and passes along the coast in a scenic area.

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.

Friday's crash looks set to be one of Taiwan's worst railway accidents on record.

The crash Friday was Taiwan's worst rail accident in seven decades.

A30 people were killed in 1981 when a truck collided with a passenger train at a crossing at the same level, in Hsinchu.