Friday, 16 April, 2021

Taiwan train crash: At least 34 killed, 72 injured

Taiwan train crash: At least 34 dead and dozens injured Taiwan: Dozens feared dead in train crash
Adrian Cunningham | 03 April, 2021, 02:53

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 train's roof to exit the tunnel.

The front part of the train was situated outside the tunnel, and those in carriages still in the tunnel were being led to safety, Taiwan's railway administration said.

At least 36 people were killed and 72 injured when a Taiwan train derailed in a tunnel on Friday after apparently hitting a truck.

Images from the scene showed some carriages ripped apart by the impact, with others crumpled, hindering rescuers in their efforts to reach passengers.

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

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

The train, travelling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien causing some carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the fire department said in a statement.

Authorities in Taiwan say Friday's deadly train crash occurred after a truck fell onto the tracks.

In a tweet, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said emergency services "have been fully mobilized to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected".

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The accident occurred at the start of the busy annual Tomb Sweeping Festival, a long holiday weekend when Taiwan's roads and railways are usually packed.

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.

And in 2003, 17 died and 156 were injured after a train on the Alishan mountain railway plunged into a chasm at the side of the track.

Television footage and photos posted from the scene on the website of the official Central News Agency showed people climbing out of the open door of a railcar just outside the entrance to the tunnel. He said the crash was the worst-ever in Taiwan.

The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018, which left 18 people dead.

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

Taiwan's extensive rail system has undergone substantial upgrades in recent years, particularly with the addition of a high-speed line connecting the capital Taipei with west coast cities to the south.

The crash, which also killed the train's driver, is the island's worst rail disaster in at least four decades.