At least 41 people were killed in an accident involving a train on the first day of the holiday in eastern Taiwan. The train derailed in a tunnel. Dozens of passengers are still trapped.
The train from Taipei to Taitung with 350 people on board ran in Hualien, in eastern Taiwan, on the first day of the Qingming Festival on Friday morning. That is a holiday weekend in early April that mobilizes a considerable number of Taiwanese every year.
It is still uncertain what caused the accident. Presumably, the train collided with a poorly positioned truck of workers who were working nearby. As a result, they came into interaction with the tunnel wall, after which several carriages flew off the tracks.
The balance is already very tough: according to authorities, at least 41 people have died. More than 60 passengers have been taken to the hospital, and more than 70 people are still detained. “Many of them are still showing signs of life,” rescue workers say. 80 to 100 people could be evacuated.
Photographs of the accident show how several train wagons are heavily damaged against the walls in the tunnel. You can clearly see that it is a not too wide tunnel, which makes it difficult for rescue workers to remove the people trapped in the fifth to eighth carriages.
The accident is the deadliest tragedy in the country in decades. In 2018, 18 people died in a train accident; in 1981, the death toll was 30.
The train with which the accident occurred is a 408 Taroko Express. This is one of the fastest trains in Taiwan, which can reach speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour and transport thousands of people every day through the enchanting mountains and valleys of eastern Taiwan. You will find, amongst other things, the national park of Taroko.