Taiwan train derails in tunnel, reportedly killing 36 people

At least 36 killed after train derails in Taiwan

At least 36 people have died and more than 72 others have been injured after a train derailed in eastern Taiwan, officials have said.

Many of these more fortunate passengers were seen walking out of the tunnel over the roof of the train.

Officials in Hualien county said rescue efforts were continuing.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement saying "rescuing those trapped is our highest priority now".

The accident occurred on Taiwan's eastern railway line around 9:30 am (0130 GMT).

Between 80 to 100 people were evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight had "deformed" and were hard to gain access to, it added.

Taiwan media said many people were standing as the train was so full, and were thrown about when it crashed.

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.

People further back in the train were able to walk away from the crash comparatively unscathed. "I felt like we were pushed from behind".

Images of the crash scene showed carriages inside the tunnel ripped apart from the impact, while others crumpled, hindering rescuers reaching passengers, though as of mid-afternoon only two people remained trapped in the wreckage.

The eight-car train was making its way from Taipei to the southeastern city of Taitung and was carrying some 350 passengers.

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

Railway police said 36 passengers were classified as "out of hospital cardiac arrest" - a term for someone showing no signs of life.

Friday's crash looks set to be one of Taiwan's worst railway accidents on record.

Taiwan's last major rail crash was in October 2018 when an express train derailed while rounding a tight corner on the northeast coast, killing at least 18 people and injuring approximately 175. More than 200 of the 366 people on board were also injured.

In 1991, a collision in western Taiwan killed 30 people and injured 112 in its deadliest train accident.

Thirty were also killed in 1981 after a truck collided with a passenger train at a level crossing and sent coaches over a bridge in Hsinchu.

Another crash in 1961 killed 48 while a 1978 crash left 41 dead.