In this photo released by Taiwan Railways Administration, train carriages are scattered at the site of a train derailment in Lian in northern Taiwan on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 300 passengers toward Taitung, a city on Taiwan’s southeast coast, when it went off the tracks on Sunday afternoon. (Taiwan Railways Administration via AP)

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

One of Taiwan’s fastest passenger trains derailed Sunday on a curve along a popular weekend route, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 170 others, authorities said.

The Puyuma express was carrying more than 360 passengers from a suburb of Taipei in the north to Taitung, a city on Taiwan’s southeast coast, when it went off the tracks shortly before 5 p.m., the government said in a statement.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the accident.

Most of the deaths were in the first car, and it was unclear whether other people were trapped in the train, according to a government spokesman, who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity.

Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.

“Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away,” Chen said.

Earlier, the government put the death toll as high as 22, but the National Fire Agency, citing the Cabinet spokesman’s office, later reduced that figure and blamed a miscalculation.

Photos from the scene just south of the city of Luodong showed the train’s cars in a zig-zag formation near the tracks. Five cars were turned on their sides.

Local television reports said passengers tried to escape through windows and that bystanders gathered to help them before rescuers arrived.

Hours after the accident, one of the eight cars was seen tipped over at about a 75-degree angle, with the entire right side destroyed.

Fearing people may be trapped beneath the car, firefighters with lights on their hard hats peered underneath as a crane prepared to upend it. The firefighters were joined by soldiers and Buddhist charity workers who gathered on both sides of the tracks.

Soldiers removed bodies to identify them, but nightfall complicated the rescue work.

On a live feed provided by Taiwan’s United Daily News, rescuers could be seen carrying what appeared to be a body wrapped in white plastic away from the site.

At the scene, searchers walked through an upright car with flashlights. The search-and-rescue work was to continue until early Monday to make sure everyone aboard was accounted for, Premier William Lai told reporters shortly after midnight.

“The underlying cause should be investigated to the maximum extent to avoid anything like this happening in the future,” Lai said. “We will make the whole thing transparent.”

Ensuring that rail traffic goes back to normal is also a priority, he said.

Most people who were seriously hurt suffered head injuries and one was bleeding internally, said Lin Chih-min, deputy director of Luodong Boai Hospital, where four people were in intensive care. The hospital had treated 65 people total.

The wreck happened at a railway station called Hsin Ma, but the train was not scheduled to stop there.

The Puyuma was launched in 2013 to handle the rugged topography of Taiwan’s east coast. It is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast. The Puyuma trains travel up to 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for the high-speed rail.

The train that derailed had its most recent inspection and major maintenance work in 2017, Taiwan Railways Administration Director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference.

Sunday’s derailment was at least the third deadly rail accident in Taiwan since 2003.

A popular tourist train overturned in the southern mountains in April 2011 after a large tree fell into its path. Five Chinese visitors were killed.

A train undertaking a test run ignored a stop sign and crashed into another train in northeastern Taiwan in June 2007. Five people were killed and 16 others hurt.

And in March 2003, a train derailed near a popular mountain resort, killing 17 people and hurting more than 100 people. Investigators blamed brake failure.

___

Associated Press Writer Yanan Wang in Beijing contributed to this report.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Noisy train whistles to stay at Harrison Mills rail crossing

A majority of residents didn’t want to pay for part of the $390K replacement crossing

HOMEGROWN: Family traditions key to Agassiz dairy farm

Julaine and Johannes Treur are keeping family traditions alive at their organic dairy farm

Vancouver TheatreSports finishes off Harrison’s Season of Performing Arts

Vancovuer TheatreSports will be performing in Harrison on May 4

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Chilliwack driver busted with heroin after nodding off behind the wheel

29-year-old man from Vancouver facing possible charges

Harrison Mills band holding contest to decide name

The local cover band will be announcing the winner at a concert on May 3

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read