At least 41 people were reported killed and dozens injured after a packed express train derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan on Friday morning, the country’s railways administration said, in the worst train crash on the island in at least 40 years.
The transport ministry said some 40 injured passengers had already been sent to hospital with others in the process of being admitted. About people are thought to remain trapped.
At least 70 other people are also believed to be trapped in the wreckage. Emergency services earlier reported “multiple persons with no vital signs” of life.
The Central Emergency Operation Center said rescuers were trying to get to four carriages inside the tunnel that were badly damaged and difficult to access.
Images showed an injured passenger being stretched out of the crash scene, her head and neck in a brace, passengers gathering suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage and others walking out of the tunnel on the roof of the train.
The eight carriage train, on its way from Taipei to Taitung and carrying 350 people, came off the tracks at 9:28 am (01:28 GMT) in a tunnel north of Hualien, according to the Taiwan Railways Administration. The service was so busy that some people were forced to stand and thrown through the air as it derailed.
Taiwan’s minister of transport and communications Lin Chia-lung said on Twitter he was on his way to the scene of the accident. I have instructed the Taiwan Railways to set up a first-level disaster response center,” he said. “I am also rushing to the response center.
A preliminary investigation suggested that the train hit a truck belonging to an engineering maintenance team, which had rolled onto the track after its brakes failed, Taiwan Railways said.
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