36 people are killed and 70 remain trapped after train derailed in tunnel in Taiwan

At least 36 people have been killed after a train derailed inside a tunnel in Taiwan following a collision with a truck.

Some 70 passengers remain trapped inside the mangled carriages, while another 40 have been rushed to hospital, after the train crashed outside the city of Hualien on Friday.

The express train was packed with around 350 people, many of whom were standing, as it carried tourists who were heading home at the start of the long weekend. 

Images of the crash scene show train carriages ripped apart and crumpled against the sides of the tunnel, preventing rescuers from reaching passengers. 

A crumpled train carriage is seen in a tunnel outside Taitung

A crumpled train carriage is seen in a tunnel outside Taitung

People flee the wreckage after the crash on Friday

People flee the wreckage after the crash on Friday

The train, an express travelling from Taipei to Taitung carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend, came off the rails north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan (pictured: a crumpled carriage, left, and people fleeing the wreckage, right)

Passengers escaped the wreckage by clambering onto the roof of the train and walking out over it

Passengers escaped the wreckage by clambering onto the roof of the train and walking out over it

Passengers escaped the wreckage by clambering onto the roof of the train and walking out over it

The train is seen at the entrance to the tunnel with its carriages clearly skewed off course

The train is seen at the entrance to the tunnel with its carriages clearly skewed off course

The train is seen at the entrance to the tunnel with its carriages clearly skewed off course 

The derailed train at the entrance to the tunnel with what appears to be the remnants of a vehicle or trailer on its right flank

The derailed train at the entrance to the tunnel with what appears to be the remnants of a vehicle or trailer on its right flank

The derailed train at the entrance to the tunnel with what appears to be the remnants of a vehicle or trailer on its right flank

The train was carrying around 350 people, the fire department said. Taiwan media said many people were standing as the train was so full, and were thrown about when it crashed.

More than 40 people have already been taken to hospital and others injured are in the process of being taken to hospital, with around 70 reported trapped in train carriages.

Between 80 to 100 people were evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight have ‘deformed’ and are hard to gain access to, it added.

‘Is everyone out in carriage four?’ a lady is heard shouting from inside the tunnel, in images provided by the fire department.

The official Central News Agency said a truck that was ‘not parked properly’ was suspected of sliding into the path of the train.

The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage lying next to the derailed train, and an aerial image of the end of the train sitting on the track next to a construction site.

‘Our train crashed into a truck,’ one man said in a video aired on Taiwanese television, showing pictures of the wreckage. ‘The truck came falling down.’ 

Passengers are seen escaping over the roof of the train which was crowded with tourists for the weekend

Passengers are seen escaping over the roof of the train which was crowded with tourists for the weekend

Passengers are seen escaping over the roof of the train which was crowded with tourists for the weekend

Aerial footage shows people escaping from the train, using the roof to clamber out of the tunnel

Aerial footage shows people escaping from the train, using the roof to clamber out of the tunnel

Aerial footage shows people escaping from the train, using the roof to clamber out of the tunnel

Emergency services are seen arriving at the crash site in Taiwan on Friday

Emergency services are seen arriving at the crash site in Taiwan on Friday

Emergency services are seen arriving at the crash site in Taiwan on Friday

Part of the train was situated outside the tunnel, and those in carriages still in the tunnel were being led to safety, Taiwan’s railway administration said.

Images showed an injured passenger being stretched out of the crash scene, her head and neck in a brace, passengers gathering suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage and others walking out of the tunnel on the roof of the train.

The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day.

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 coast just north of Hualien where the crash occurred.

The line connecting Taipei with Hualien was only opened in 1979.

In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan. In 1981, 30 were killed in a collision in northern Taiwan, and in 1991 another 30 died in a train crash. 

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