Health Care

At least 34 killed as train derails in Taiwan

At least 34 killed as train derails in Taiwan”

At least 36 people have died after a train derailed on Friday in eastern Taiwan, while 72 were injured as rescuers struggled to reach crushed carriages, the government said.

Local media reports suggest that while the second and third cars derailed, carriages five to eight have sustained significant damage inside the tunnel, hampering rescue efforts.

The Taiwan Railways Agency said 146 passengers were sent to hospital in addition to the 50 confirmed dead.

Mr Weng said a construction truck operated by the railway administration slid onto the track from a work site on the hillside above.

"This is our initial understanding and we are clarifying the cause of the incident", he added. "The top priority now is to rescue the stranded people", it said in a statement.

Pictures published by local newspaper UDN showed the front of the train inside the tunnel had been pulverized into a twisted mesh of metal.

Rescuers worked for hours to reach those trapped inside the tunnel and haul them out.

With much of the train still inside the tunnel, many escaping passengers had to scramble out of doors and windows and scale the sides of the train to walk along the roof in darkness to safety.

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

More news: US Capitol: Driver dead after ramming police barricade

Many people who were standing for the journey were thrown about when it crashed.

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 roof of the train to leave the tunnel.

The train was carrying nearly 500 people on its way from Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to Taitung on the east coast, when it derailed in a tunnel just north of Hualien.

The crash came on the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival, an annual religious holiday when people travel to their hometowns for family gatherings and to pay their respects at the graves of their ancestors.

The lightly populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal railway lines to avoid treacherous mountain roads.

With the help of multiple tunnels and bridges, it winds its way through towering mountains and dramatic gorges before entering the picturesque Huadong Valley. Railways news officer Weng Hui-ping called the crash Taiwan's deadliest rail disaster. The train's driver was listed among those dead, while several other casualties have yet to be identified.

Authorities said that at least 68 people are injured.

The train smashed into the truck while it emerged. Those were said to be the worst previous crashes on the rail system that dates from the late 19th century.



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