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Train crash kills 50 in Taiwan’s rail tragedy in decades

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A Taiwan express train, with nearly 500 on board, derailed in a tunnel on Friday after colliding with a truck that had slipped on a bank on the track.

The crash killed at least 50 passengers and injured 146 in the island’s worst rail disaster in seven decades.

Footage from the scene showed cars torn apart by the impact, others crumpled, hampering rescuers in their efforts to reach passengers.

As of mid-afternoon, no one was still trapped, although firefighters said they had found body parts, meaning the number of people killed, including the driver, was likely to increase.

“People fell on top of each other,” a woman who survived the crash said on national television.

“It was terrifying; there were whole families there. ”

The Taiwanese government said there were 496 people on the train, including 120 without seats.

Many were tourists and people returning home at the start of a traditional long weekend to care for family graves.

A French citizen was among the dead, officials said.

The train was traveling from Taipei, the capital, to the southeastern city of Taitung.

It derailed north of the eastern city of Hualien after hitting a truck that had slipped off a road from a nearby construction site, deputy director of the roads administration Feng Hui-sheng told reporters. Taiwan iron.

Feng said the site manager, who was stabilizing the mountainside to prevent landslides, drove around 9:00 a.m. (01:00 GMT) and stopped his truck in front of the site office.

“At the present time, it is suspected because the vehicle was not braked properly, it slipped for about 20 meters along the access road to the site and entered the main line east,” a he added.

The official Central News Agency said police questioned the director.

The fire department showed a photo of what appeared to be the wreckage of the truck beside the derailed train, with an aerial image of one end of the train still on the track beside the construction site.

Survivors described their terror when the train hit the truck and came to a stop.

“It suddenly stopped and everything shook,” one of them said on local television.

“Everything was so chaotic. ”

Passengers in some wagons still in the tunnel were to be led to safety, the railway administration said.

Images showed an injured female passenger carried away on a stretcher, her head and neck in a splint, while others gathered suitcases and bags in a tilted and derailed car as some walked on the roof of the train to exit the tunnel .

The accident happened at the start of a long weekend for the traditional tomb sweeping festival.

Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is a tourist destination.

The railway that winds from Taipei runs along the coast and is known for its tunnels, in one of which the crash took place.

The link to Taipei opened in 1979.

Taiwan’s state-owned railways are generally reliable and efficient, but have had an inconsistent safety record over the years.

The last major accident was in 2018, when 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in the northeast of the island.

In 1948, an estimated 64 people died when a train caught fire in northern Taiwan. (Reuters / NAN)

(NAN)

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