Dozens feared dead, many trapped in Taiwan's deadliest rail tragedy in decades

Taiwan train derails in tunnel reportedly killing 36 people

At least 41 people have died and up to 200 remain trapped after a train carrying almost 500 people crashed and then derailed in a tunnel in Taiwan.

A further 72 people were still believed to be trapped inside train carriages while 61 passengers had been sent to hospital.

He said a construction truck whose owner was a contractor for the administration slid from a work site above the track.

Pictures from the scene showed the back of a yellow flatbed truck on its side next to the train.

The latest reports from the National Fire Agency say 490 people were on the train, with 41 dead and more than 60 injured.

Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan, called it a "heartbreaking incident" in a tweet this morning.

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

Pictures published by local newspaper UDN showed the front of the train inside the tunnel had been pulverised into a twisted mesh of metal. Many passengers were crushed, while some survivors were forced to climb out of windows and walk along the train's roof to safety.

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.

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.

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.

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

Taiwan's mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination, and the railway line from Taipei down the east coast is renowned for its tunnels and a route that hugs the coast just north of Hualien where the crash occurred.

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 train's driver was listed among those dead, while several other casualties have yet to be identified.

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

More than 100 people were injured, it said.

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

A collision between two trains resulted in 30 deaths and 112 injuries.

In 1948, 64 people are estimated to have died when a train burst into flames in northern Taiwan.



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