Taiwan: At least 34 killed after train derails inside tunnelon April 2, 2021 at 6:53 am

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Dozens more are still trapped in what is feared to be the island’s worst rail disaster in decades.

People walk next to a train which derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien

image copyrightReuters

At least 34 people have died and 70 remain trapped after a train carrying around 350 passengers derailed inside a tunnel in Taiwan.

Dozens more have been injured, with rescuers trying to access several badly damaged carriages inside the tunnel.

Local media say the eight-carriage train hit a construction vehicle that had slipped onto the tracks.

The train, from the capital Taipei to Taitung, was carrying people travelling for the annual Tomb Sweeping festival.

Many people may have been standing because the train was so full.

Taiwan rail crash site

image copyrightReuters

The derailment took place at about 09:00 local time (01:00 GMT). Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement saying “rescuing those trapped is our highest priority now”.

Local media reports say the train driver is among the dead.

Images show a large, yellow flatbed truck lying at the side of the tracks. A construction project has been under way near the north end of the tunnel.

It is not known how the vehicle slipped down the embankment.

Taiwan rail crash site

image copyrightEPA

Other pictures online showed people walking along the tracks with their belongings as they were evacuated from less badly affected carriages. Other survivors were being carried away on stretchers with their necks in braces.

“It felt like there was a sudden violent jolt and I found myself falling to the floor,” one female survivor told Taiwan’s UDN. “We broke the window to climb to the roof of the train to get out.”

Many of those on the train are believed to be tourists celebrating the Tomb Sweeping festival – a time when people visit the graves of friends and family, sprucing them up and making offerings to their spirits.

People typically travel during this long weekend to pay their respects to the dead.

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Friday’s crash could be the island’s worst rail disaster in decades.

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

The island’s worst crash in recent history was in 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided.

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