TAIPEI: A train derailed in a tunnel in Taiwan on Friday (Apr 2) after apparently hitting a truck, with at least four people feared dead and more than 20 injured, as rescuers struggled to reach crushed carriages, the fire department said.
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.
At least four people are believed dead. Three people with serious injuries have been sent to hospital and around 20 with light injuries are waiting to go to hospital, it said.
The train was carrying around 350 people, and rescue efforts are ongoing, the department said.
The accident occurred on Taiwan’s eastern railway line around 9.30am .
A brief video released by the Central Emergency Operation Center inside the tunnel showed rescuers arriving on the scene and one twisted carriage door.
Taiwan Railways Administration issued a separate statement saying “many” were without signs of life, citing the local fire department.
Between 80 to 100 people have been evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight have “deformed” and are hard to gain access to, the fire department said.
“Is everyone out in carriage four?” a lady is heard shouting from inside the tunnel, in images provided by the fire department.
The official Central News Agency said a truck that was “not parked properly” was suspected of sliding into the path of the train. The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage lying next to part of the derailed train.
Images of the crash scene show carriages inside the tunnel crumbled and ripped apart from the impact, passengers gathering suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage and others walking along the tracks littered with wreckage.
The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day hospital.
Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination.
In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan, in the island’s worst rail disaster in more than three decades.
This story is developing. Please refresh for updates.