Taiwan: Dozens killed as train crashes and derails in tunnel

Ruben Fields
April 3, 2021

The AP reported that a truck somehow fell off a cliff and landed directly in front of the tunnel.

A section of a train that derailed inside a tunnel in the mountains of Hualien, in eastern Taiwan on Friday. "It was terrifying. There were whole families there".

Dec 9, 1957: A train derailed and overturned, killing 18 people and injuring 116.

The train, which was carrying more than 400 people, derailed 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, including many families with children.

The train was traveling to Taitung when it came off the rails as it entered a tunnel, just north of the city of Hualien.

The National Fire Service confirmed the death toll - which included the train's young, newly married driver and the assistant driver - and said more than 100 people were injured. One French citizen was amongst the dead, officials said.

"At present it is suspected (that) the vehicle wasn't braked properly, (and) slid for around 20 meters along the site access road", Feng said.

Survivors described their terror as the train slammed into the truck and ground to a halt.

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"It felt like there was a sudden violent jolt and I found myself falling to the floor", one female survivor told Taiwan's UDN.

Other pictures online showed people walking along the tracks with their belongings as they were evacuated from less badly affected carriages.

There were reportedly 350 passengers on board-many of whom were traveling for the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Taiwanese railway officials will be required to conduct sweeps along other tracks in the system to "prevent this from happening again", Su Tseng-chang, the country's premier, said.

Taiwan's mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination, and the railway line from Taipei down the east coast is renowned for its tunnels and route that hugs the coastline.

In 1948, 64 people were estimated to have died when a train caught fire in northern Taiwan.

With much of the train still inside the tunnel, many escaping passengers had to scramble out of doors and windows and scale the sides of the train to walk along the roof in darkness to safety.

The island's worst crash in recent history was in 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided.

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