A passenger train derailed on the east coast of Taiwan, killing 48 people including the driver and injuring dozens in the deadliest train accident in decades.
The Taroko Express, which has eight coaches, derailed at a tunnel in Hualien County at around 9:30 a.m., according to the National Fire Agency. There were 488 passengers in total, plus three staff, the Taiwan Railways Administration said. The train was heading south along the east coast to Taitung. Four coaches of the train were mangled after hitting a wall.
Friday is the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping holiday, when many in Taiwan travel to be with family. The island last saw a major train derailment in October 2018, when the Puyuma Express came off the rails in eastern Yilan country, killing 18 and injuring almost 200. Preliminary assessments showed that a maintenance truck fell from a position above the railway and might be to blame for Friday’s tragedy, according to the TRA.
“It’s regrettable that an accident happened on the first day of holidays, leading to heavy casualties. I share the sorrow with fellow countrymen,” President Tsai Ing-wen said at a briefing in Taipei, adding that government continues to offer its best rescue efforts.
Tsai has instructed the transportation ministry as well as Taiwan Railway to deal with impacted traffic arrangements.
Rescuers found 81 people who were seriously or slightly injured and sent them to the hospital for treatment, according to Taiwan Railways Administration.
“Taiwan Railways Administration had implemented over 100 items of reform since Puyuma accident in 2018, but obviously it is not enough,” said Lin Chia-lung, Minister of Transportation and Communications, in a statement, adding that “I will surely shoulder all political responsibility.”