A passenger walks along a derailed train in Hualien County in eastern Taiwan Friday, April 2, 2021. The train partially derailed along Taiwan’s east coast Friday, injuring an unknown number of passengers and causing potential fatalities. (hsnews.com.tw via AP)

A passenger walks along a derailed train in Hualien County in eastern Taiwan Friday, April 2, 2021. The train partially derailed along Taiwan’s east coast Friday, injuring an unknown number of passengers and causing potential fatalities. (hsnews.com.tw via AP)

Taiwan train crash kills 50, many trapped, in deadliest rail tragedy in decades

A Taiwan express train with almost 500 aboard derailed in a tunnel on Friday after hitting a truck that had slid down a bank onto the track

A train partially derailed in eastern Taiwan on Friday after colliding with an unmanned vehicle that had rolled down a hill, killing 50 people and injuring dozens. With the train still partly in a tunnel, survivors climbed out of windows and walked along the train’s roof to reach safety after the country’s deadliest railway disaster.

The crash occurred near the Taroko Gorge scenic area on the first day of a long holiday weekend when many people were using Taiwan’s extensive rail system. The train had been carrying more than 400 people. Images from the scene showed derailed train cars wedged against the walls of the tunnel; part of the wall of one car had smashed into a seat.

“Many people were crushed under train seats in the collision. And there were other people on top of the seats. So those at the bottom were pressed and crushed and lost consciousness,” a passenger with gauze taped to her elbow told Taiwanese broadcaster EBC, which did not show her face or give her name. “At the beginning, they still responded when we called them. But I guess they lost consciousness afterward.”

The National Fire Service confirmed the death toll, which included the train’s young, newly married driver, and said all aboard had now been accounted for. More than 100 people were injured, it said. Railways news officer Weng Hui-ping called the crash Taiwan’s deadliest rail disaster.

Weng said a construction truck operated by the railway administration slid onto the track from a work site on the hillside above. No one was in the truck at the time. He said the speed of the train was not known.

The train had only partially emerged from a tunnel, and with much of it still inside, many escaping passengers were forced to scramble out of doors and windows and scale the sides of the train to walk along the roof to safety.

The stretch of track where the orange-striped train came to a halt hugs the coastline. Yellow and red police tape marked the area of the crash, where tents had been set up and dozens of rescuers and officials had converged.

Taiwan is a mountainous island, and most of its 24 million people live in the flatlands along the northern and western coasts that are home to most of the island’s farmland, biggest cities and high-tech industries. The lightly populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom travel there by train to avoid mountain roads.

An investigation has been launched into the crash, and there was no immediate word about any arrests.

In a tweet, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said emergency services “have been fully mobilized to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident.”

The crash came on the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival, an annual religious holiday when people travel to their hometowns for family gatherings and to pay their respects at the graves of their ancestors.

Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said the Railways Administration would be required to immediately conduct checks along other track lines to “prevent this from happening again.”

About 50 volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation stationed at an aid tent near the crash site said children were among the dozens who escaped the train cars. They were treating minor wounds and offering lunches.

“We see people coming off the train and they look shaken and nervous,” said Chen Tzu-chong, a Tzu Chi team leader on site.

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 nearly 200.

In 1991, a collision in western Taiwan killed 30 people and another crash a decade earlier also killed 30. Those were said to be the worst previous crashes on the rail system that dates from the late 19th century.

Taiwan’s extensive rail system has undergone substantial upgrades in recent years, particularly with the addition of a high-speed line connecting the capital Taipei with west coast cities to the south.

The train involved in Friday’s derailment, the Taroko No. 408, is one of Taiwan’s newer models.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A train is stranded in a tunnel in Hualien County in eastern Taiwan Friday, April 2, 2021. The train partially derailed along Taiwan’s east coast Friday, injuring an unknown number of passengers and causing potential fatalities. (Ministry of Interior, National Fire Department via AP)

A train is stranded in a tunnel in Hualien County in eastern Taiwan Friday, April 2, 2021. The train partially derailed along Taiwan’s east coast Friday, injuring an unknown number of passengers and causing potential fatalities. (Ministry of Interior, National Fire Department via AP)

Just Posted

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has called for the resignation of B.C.’s Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside. He made the call during a speech in Vancouver on April 10, 2021, in a rally for a parent embroiled in legal battles surrounding his child’s transition.
Chilliwack school trustee calls for B.C.’s minister of education to resign

Barry Neufeld spoke at rally for jailed father in Vancouver, calling SOGI 123 a ‘dangerous experiment’

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

The old seniors centre is adjacent to Mission Leisure Centre, which will compliment programs, amenities, parking, and security for the youth centre. Google Maps image.
Mission’s old seniors centre to be turned into youth centre

Council approves renovation costs of $105,000; youth lounge budget increase of $66,000

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Most Read