HUALIEN KANTI, TAIWAN (AP) – A drone train rolled over a railway line in Taiwan on Friday, killing at least 51 people and injuring dozens more in the island’s deadliest rail accident. Many passengers were crushed, while some of the survivors had to go out the windows and walk along the roof of the train, taking them safely.
The truck’s emergency brake was not properly applied, according to the government’s Disaster Relief Center, “the car slid about 20 meters (65 feet) down the hill.” Minutes later, the train’s leading car collided with it, according to Railway Administration spokesman Weng Huipin, just before the train entered the tunnel.
On the first day of a long vacation, when many people were using Taiwan’s extensive rail system, a train carrying more than 400 people derailed near the scenic Taroko Gorge, including many families with children. Images from the scene showed the train cars pinned to the walls of the tunnel. Part of the wall of one car smashed the seat.
“Many people were crushed under the train seats as a result of the collision. And there were other people above the seats. “Thus, those inside were crushed, crushed and lost consciousness,” the director told Taiwanese EBC, who did not show his face or give his name, with a veil over his elbow. “At first they still responded when we called them. But I suppose they lost consciousness after that. ”
The National Fire Service confirmed the death toll, which included the young, newly married driver of the train, the driver’s assistant, saying more than 100 people had been injured.
Earlier it was reported that all the passengers had been registered, but later the spokesman said that it was possible that more bodies would remain in the clogged cars, թիվը the number of victims could still increase. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not allow the information to be disseminated to the media.
Wang, a spokesman for the Railway Administration, called the accident the deadliest rail accident in Taiwan.
He said the construction truck, owned by the administration contractor, slipped from the site above the line. No one was in the truck at the time. An investigation has been launched, և Hualien’s police have interviewed one person, Weng said.
The part of the railway line where the orange striped train stopped is hugging the coastal zone; it has no protective fence. A yellow-red police tape marked the site of the crash, where tents were set up, and dozens of rescuers and officials rallied.
Since most of the train was still in the tunnel, many fleeing passengers had to step out of doors, windows, and scaled the sides of the train along the roof in the dark to safety.
A young man interviewed by Taiwanese media at the hospital said he had traveled with friends for a vacation but now had no idea where they were.
“Everyone was just flying all over the place,” said the man, who gave his last name only Chen, who was in a wheelchair with his hand in a cast. Clearly frustrated and in pain, he said the cars and seats were twisted.
Taiwan is a mountainous island, with a population of 24 million, located in the plains along the northwestern coast, home to most of the island’s agricultural land, the largest cities, and high-tech industries. The lightly populated area where the disaster occurred is popular with tourists, many of whom travel by train to avoid mountain roads.
In a tweet, Taiwanese President Ai Ing-Wen said emergency services had been “fully mobilized to help the injured passengers, rescuing railway workers.” “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the face of this heartbreaking incident.”
The accident took place on the first day of the Four Day Cemetery Sweeping Festival, an annual religious holiday when people travel to their hometowns for family gatherings to pay their respects to their ancestors’ graves.
Taiwan’s Prime Minister Sueng Ying-chang said the railway administration was required to conduct immediate inspections along other lines “to prevent this”.
About 50 volunteers from the Zhu Zhu Chi Buddhist Foundation, located in a relief tent near the crash site, said dozens of children had been rescued from the train carriages. They treated minor wounds and offered lunches.
“We see people getting off the train, they look shocked and nervous,” said Chen Zhu-chong, the leader of the Z-Chi team at the scene.
Taiwan’s last major train crash occurred in October 2018, when a high-speed train derailed while turning a tight corner on the northeast coast, killing at least 18 people and injuring nearly 200 others.
A collision in western Taiwan in 1991 killed 30 people, and another crash a decade ago killed 30 people. They were said to be the worst previous accidents on the railroad dating back to the late 19th century.
In recent years, Taiwan’s extensive rail system has undergone significant upgrades, in particular with the addition of a high-speed line connecting the capital Taipei with cities on the southwest coast.
The train derailed on Friday, the Taroko 408, sometimes called the Taroko Express, is one of Taiwan’s newest models.
This story has been updated to correct that the train entered the tunnel when the accident occurred, not to leave it.
Jennings reported from Taipei, Taiwan.