Taiwan train crash kills 18 in deadliest rail tragedy in decades

Taiwan train crash kills 18 in deadliest rail tragedy in decades
Rescuers tend to injured passengers after a train derailed in Yilan, Taiwan October 21, 2018.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - Eighteen people died and 168 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan on Sunday, authorities said, in the island's worst rail disaster in more than three decades.

Four carriages were overturned in the crash, which occurred in Yilan County near the coast on a line popular among tourists when all eight cars ran off the tracks, officials said.

It was unclear what caused the crash. As of 9:35 p.m. (1335 GMT), all 366 passengers onboard - including the dead and injured - had been evacuated or removed from the wreckage, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.

Hundreds of rescuers and military personnel worked through the wreckage with spotlights on Sunday night in search of survivors, with ambulances stationed nearby.

Rescue workers, some attending to injured people at the scene, used cranes to lift the battered cars, some of which were lined in a zigzag pattern near the tracks.

The official Central News Agency said the incident was the island's deadliest rail tragedy since 30 were killed in a 1981 collision in northern Taiwan.

"We need to get some water in quickly," a woman was seen shouting in a live broadcast on Facebook shortly after the crash in the late afternoon. Several passengers, who appeared to suffer minor injuries, were carried out from a deformed car by local villagers before rescuers arrived, the video showed.

"We will use all our strength and efforts for the rescue," President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on her Facebook page.

Train derails in Taiwan's Yilan county, killing 18

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    Eighteen people died and 168 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan on Sunday, authorities said, in the island's worst rail disaster in more than three decades.

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    Four carriages were overturned in the crash, which occurred in Yilan County near the coast on a line popular among tourists when all eight cars ran off the tracks, officials said.

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    Hundreds of rescuers and military personnel worked through the wreckage with spotlights on Sunday night in search of survivors, with ambulances stationed nearby.

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    Rescue workers, some attending to injured people at the scene, used cranes to lift the battered cars, some of which were lined in a zigzag pattern near the tracks.

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    An American citizen was injured. The authority was checking whether more foreigners were on board.

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    The official Central News Agency said the incident was the island's deadliest rail tragedy since 30 were killed in a 1981 collision in northern Taiwan.

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    An investigation was under way to find out the cause of the crash, Taiwan Railways Administration said. "The train was in pretty good condition," its Deputy Chief Lu Chieh-Shen told a news conference.

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    A general view shows carriages of the Puyuma Express train in Taiwan's northeastern Yilan county on October 22, 2018, a day after the train derailed at high speed near Xinma station.

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    Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen walk along the tracks of Xinma station to listen to the briefings from a search and rescue team in Taiwan's northeastern Yilan county.

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    Tsai Ing-wen visits family relatives of victims of train derailment, in Yilan, Taiwan.

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    A relative attends a ceremony paying tribute to the victims of a train derailment in Yilan, Taiwan October 22, 2018.

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    A relative cries while paying tribute to victims of a train derailment, at hospital in Yilan, Taiwan October 22, 2018.

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An investigation was underway to find out the cause of the crash, Taiwan Railways Administration said. "The train was in pretty good condition," its Deputy Chief Lu Chieh-Shen told a news conference.

An American citizen was injured. The authority was checking whether more foreigners were on board.

The derailment came weeks ahead of island-wide local elections that are being seen as a bellwether for Tsai's ruling party's performance in presidential elections due in 2020.

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