Train derails in Taiwan, leaving 50 dead, 146 injured
At least 50 people were killed, and 146 others injured in Taiwan on Friday after a train carrying many holiday home-returning passengers derailed in the island's deadliest accident in over four decades.
Local transportation authorities reported that the driver and the assistant driver of the train were among the dead. The 48 others were all passengers.
By 7 p.m. nobody remained trapped inside the train, the authorities said, but rescuers told media earlier in the day that they had to work overnight to comb through the wreckage as some train cars were severely damaged.
The accident occurred in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County at 9:28 a.m. Friday, the start of the four-day Tomb-sweeping Day holiday. Many passengers on board were heading home to tend to family graves.
The train went off the rails after hitting a truck that had slid from a road from a nearby construction site. A person responsible for the construction site has been taken in by police for questioning.
The accident left some carriages deformed, which hindered rescuers in their efforts to reach passengers.
"With so many people traveling during the holiday, the accident makes us more worried about traffic safety," a passenger on a train from Taipei to Hualien said.
Taiwan's railways have had a patchy safety record over the years. The last major accident was in 2018 when 18 people died, and over 215 were injured when a train derailed in the island's northeast.
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed condolences over the accident. "The mainland is deeply concerned about the rescue progress."
The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has also sent its condolences to the families of the deceased and expressed sympathies to the injured.
Meanwhile, the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots issued a letter of sympathy, wishing the deceased persons rest in peace and those injured quickly recover.
The Central Committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League has also released a letter of sympathy, sending condolences to the affected families and well wishes to the injured.
"People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait share a natural affinity. The compatriots on the mainland feel for the pain of loss of Taiwan compatriots," the letter read.