TAIPEI – A passenger train derailment in Taiwan killed at least 50 people and injured more than 180 on Friday in the island’s deadliest rail incident in at least four decades.
The express train, which was traveling from the Taipei area and heading south through eastern Taiwan to Taitung, was carrying nearly 500 people, including rail personnel, when it left the tracks around 9:30 a.m. in a tunnel near the Hualien scenic area. causing some wagons to hit the tunnel walls, local authorities said. The train, the Taroko Express, is capable of speeds of approximately 80 miles per hour.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, 51 people, including two train conductors, two Americans and a French passenger, had been declared dead in the incident, while 188 injured had been taken to hospitals, according to authorities. By Friday night, firefighters had rescued all the remaining passengers.
“I share the pain with my compatriots,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Friday afternoon. He said the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the incident and urged the public to refrain from excessive speculation and await the final results of the investigation.
A preliminary investigation released by Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operations Center on Friday indicated that the eight-car train collided with a construction vehicle that had stopped on the tracks.