At least 22 people have been killed and 171 others injured after an express train derailed in northeast Taiwan, the island’s worst rail accident for more than 20 years, the Reuters reports
The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 366 passengers from a suburb of Taipei towards the southern city of Taitung, when it went off the tracks at 4:50pm (08:50 GMT) local time on Sunday, the Taiwan central government said in a statement.
All of the train’s eight carriages had derailed and five had flipped onto their side near Xinma station, railway officials said.
“There are four carriages that were overturned at 90 degrees and the worst casualties were in those carriages,” Jason Lu, head of the Taiwan Railways Administration told reporters.
“The exact cause of the accident is pending investigation,” he added.
Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.
“Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away,” Chen said.
Soldiers have been removing bodies to identify them, he added, but nightfall was complicating rescue work.
Photos from the scene just south of the city of Luodong showed the train’s eight cars in a zig-zag formation near the tracks. Five of the cars are turned over on their sides.
One passenger told Apple Daily Taiwan that the train had put on its “emergency brake” twice on the journey and that the electricity supply had been patchy.
Hong Kong’s broadcaster RTHK reported another passenger saying the train had been preparing to accelerate before overturning and had been shaking intensely, adding that some passengers were asleep at the time of the accident.
The defence ministry said it had sent in 120 soldiers to help the rescue.
President Tsai Ing-wen described the accident as a “major tragedy” in a tweet Sunday evening.
“My thoughts are with all the victims and their families,” she added.
The crash was the worst rail accident in Taiwan since 1991 when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli.