TAIPEI: An express train that derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan on Friday (Apr 2) morning was carrying about 490 people, the island’s Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung said.
This was higher than an earlier figure of 350 people provided by the fire department.
The train was travelling from Taipei to Taitung when it came off the rails north of Hualien. It was carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend traditional holiday to tend to family tombs.
At least 48 people were killed, including the train’s driver, and dozens more were injured.
Taiwan media said many people were standing as the train was full, and were thrown about when it crashed, and showed pictures of survivors being led out the tunnel.
“People just fell all over each other, on top of one another,” one female survivor told local television. “It was terrifying. There were whole families there.”
The derailment occurred on Taiwan’s eastern railway line around 9.30 am. Rescuers worked for hours to reach those trapped inside the tunnel and haul them out. By mid-afternoon, officials said there were no people left inside the carriages.
TRUCK DRIVER TAKEN IN BY POLICE
The official Central News Agency said a truck whose handbrake was not engaged was suspected of sliding off a sloping road into the path of the train, and that police had taken in the driver for questioning.
According to the Taiwan Railways Administration, the vehicle should not have been parked on the slope because there was no construction work going on at the time, reported Focus Taiwan.
The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage lying next to the derailed train, and an aerial image of the end of the train sitting on the track next to a construction site.