(CNN) – A passenger train carrying 490 people derailed in a subway in eastern Taiwan, killing at least 51 people and injuring dozens, officials said.
The eight-car train traveling to Taitung derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien on Friday morning, causing several cars to collide with the tunnel wall, the state-run Central News Agency (CNA) quoted the fire department as saying.
The fire department said the train driver was among the 51 people killed. The 66 survivors are being treated at at least six hospitals in and around Julian County, while an unknown number of people are trapped in the train cars badly damaged in the crash.
What caused the train derailment
According to the CNA, the track may have been damaged when a vehicle fell off a slope near the subway and collided with a moving train.
A car door appeared next to the derailed train, and a video showed some parts of the commercial vehicle’s heavy equipment on social media. In the video you can hear a man say: “Our train hit the truck. Where are we? Kingshui Tunnel, Kingshui Tunnel Accident. The train collided with the truck and the truck fell. I was in the last car and lucky I was in the fourth car.
“Is everyone in four cars?” From inside a tunnel, a woman hears screams at videos provided by firefighters.
Pictures of the crash scene Cars hit inside the subway, passengers taking suitcases and bags from the tilted and derailed car and others walking on trash-filled tracks. The photos show rescue operations being carried out, with passengers walking on the train to get out of the subway and being assisted.
“In response to a train derailment in Hualien, Taiwan, our emergency services are fully mobilized to rescue and assist affected passengers and railway personnel,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Twitter. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure his safety after this heartbreaking incident.”
The accident happened just as the day of the cemetery cleanup began a long weekend for a public holiday. A couple on the train told CNA they were going to Tadung to clear graves and pay their respects to dead relatives, a tradition that dates back to this date. The train was very crowded and many people were standing.
The crash site is located east of the beautiful Taroko National Park, a popular tourist destination on the mountainous east coast of the country.
In 2018, 18 people were killed and 175 injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan in the island’s worst train disaster in more than three decades.
Additional information from Reuters