TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The death toll in the train derailment near a tunnel in Hualien County rose to 50 after the last passengers trapped inside had been rescued, reports said Friday evening (April 2).
On the first day of the Tomb Sweeping holiday, a reported 350 passengers were aboard a Taroko Express train that departed from Shulin, New Taipei City, with Taitung as its destination. At 9:28 a.m, as the train was about to enter the Daqingshui tunnel in Xiulin, Hualien County, a construction vehicle parked on a slope above the track rolled down just in time to be hit by the speeding vehicle, according to a preliminary investigation.
Cars No. 2 and 3 slammed into the walls of the tunnel and the fourth and fifth cars soon followed, badly deforming them. Cars No. 4 through 8 were all reported to be inside the tunnel.
According to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), most of the apparent fatalities were found in the two last carriages. A total of 156 people were injured, and many were transferred to area hospitals for treatment or received first aid at the nearby Chongde Railway Station.
Both the train conductor and his assistant, aged 33 and 32, respectively, died in the crash, and the youngest victim was a six-year-old girl, reports said. Survivors said the power had died and they had to find a way out by using the light from their phones. Eyewitnesses said many passengers had become trapped under the seats.
The government set up a special emergency center and asked drivers to avoid the highways leading to the scene of the crash in order to allow ambulances quicker access.