Dozens of people were killed in a train accident in eastern Taiwan, which could be the country’s worst train disaster in decades.
At least 48 people were killed and 66 injured, the Department of Transportation said. The fire department said the number of casualties is likely to increase.
The train, which carried 350 people and traveled from Taipei to the southeastern city of Taitung, derailed on Friday morning near Qingshui, a scenic stretch of coastline where marble cliffs fall into the Pacific Ocean.
The government said the crash was caused by a construction vehicle that fell off the highway onto the track. The train derailed after colliding with the vehicle and then hit the wall of the tunnel.
According to the Department of Transportation and local media, the first four of the train’s eight carriages had been deformed and half of the driver’s cab had been cut off. Rescuers took until noon to access the train.
The crash occurred on the first day of a four-day vacation, which is usually a busy travel period. Many residents of Taipei travel to the east, a popular tourist destination, and people living in the area are returning home.
Images from the site broadcast on local television showed passengers walking along the railway tracks on foot.
In 2018, a train accident in northeastern Taiwan killed 18 people and injured 175.
Eastern Taiwan is cut off from the rest of the island by towering mountain ranges. The area where the crash took place is known for dangerous traffic conditions. The only road connecting the main eastern town of Hualien with the north of the island, passes through the steep cliffs with narrow curves in several places.
A year ago, an improved road was opened that bypassed some of the most dangerous sections of tunnels. Due to frequent chippings, the old road also requires almost constant repair work.