At least 48 people have died in Taiwan’s deadliest rail disaster in decades after a train carrying 350 people crashed in a tunnel in eastern part of the island near Hualien City.
The transport ministry in Taiwan disclosed that the 408 Taroko Express derailed on Friday morning, April 2, 2021 at Qingshui tunnel in Hualien county and almost 48 people, including the train driver were confirmed dead on the scene.
The express train was traveling south towards Taitung carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping holiday, the Guardian reported.
The island’s president Tsai Ing-wen said emergency services including dozens of fire, search and rescue, and military vehicles and aircraft, and more than 150 personnel were dispatched to the scene for rescue operations.
According to Taiwan’s minister of transport and communications Lin Chia-lung who rushed to the scene of the accident, first-level disaster response center has been set up to respond to the tragedy.
The actual cause of of the accident is still unknown but preliminary investigation suggested that the train crashed into a truck belonging to an engineering maintenance team, which had rolled onto the track after its brakes failed.
The crash site is located just east of the picturesque Taroko National Park, a popular tourist destination on the country’s mountainous east coast. Taiwan’s eastern railway line is usually a popular tourist draw down its dramatic and less populated eastern coastline.
Taiwan’s last major railway accident was in 2018 when a passenger train in eastern Taiwan’s Yilan derailed, leaving 18 people dead.
In 1990, 30 were killed in Miaoli when two trains collided and over 100 people were injured.