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Monday, October 2, 2023

Taiwan Train Derails in Tunnel, Killing at Least 36 People

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A passenger train derailed in eastern Taiwan on Friday, killing at least 36 people and injuring 98 others, the authorities said, in the island’s deadliest railway accident in decades.

The eight-car Taroko Express train had been traveling from the Taipei area to the eastern coastal city of Taitung when it went off the rails around 9:30 a.m. in a tunnel just north of the city of Hualien. Several carriages hit the walls of the tunnel.

Rescue workers were trying to reach around 70 passengers who were still trapped in the wreck inside the tunnel, according to the Hualien County government.

The Taroko Express train is one of the fastest to traverse Taiwan’s east coast and typically travels at around 80 miles per hour. It had been carrying around 350 passengers at the time of the crash, the official Central News Agency said.

Friday was the start of the annual “Tomb Sweeping” holiday, a time when Taiwan sees a surge in travel. The crash occurred near Qingshui Cliff, a sightseeing destination popular among tourists who flock to see towering mountains and crystal-blue waters.

The death toll so far makes the train crash one of the worst disasters that Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has faced since she took office in 2016.

Within hours of the crash on Friday, Ms. Tsai said that the government had fully mobilized its emergency services to rescue and assist the passengers and railway staff affected.

“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking accident,” she wrote on Twitter.

The authorities said they were still investigating the cause of the accident, but local news outlets reported that the train appeared to have collided with a construction vehicle, causing the derailment. Reports also said that the train driver had been killed, but that could not immediately be confirmed.

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