At least 18 people were killed and around 170 others injured when one of Taiwan’s newer, faster trains derailed on a curve along a popular weekend route, officials have said.
The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 366 passengers from a suburb of Taipei towards Taitung, a city on Taiwan’s south-east coast, when it went off the tracks at 4.50pm local time, the Taiwan central government said.
Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chen Chung-chi said, adding: “Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away.”
The injured were being treated in four different hospitals.
Most of the deaths were in the first carriage, which flipped over, a government spokesman said.
Local television reports said passengers were trying to escape through train windows and that bystanders had gathered to help them before rescuers arrived.
It is unclear how many people were still trapped in the train, said the spokesman.
More than 20 soldiers had joined firefighters in their rescue work.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the derailment.
The Puyuma was launched in 2013 to handle the very difficult topography of Taiwan’s east coast and is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast.
The trains travel up to 93 miles per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for high-speed rail.
The train that derailed is six years old and its most recent inspection and major maintenance took place in 2017, Taiwan Railways administration director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference.