Taiwan train crash leaves 36 dead, several injured

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At least 41 people were killed and more than 60 injured after a Taiwanese train carrying nearly 500 passengers derailed in a tunnel on Friday when it apparently hit a truck that slid off a road leading to a nearby construction site.

Footage released by the Taiwan Red Cross showed specialists with helmets and headlights walking on the roof of the stricken train inside the tunnel to reach survivors.

The front part of the train was situated outside the tunnel, and those in carriages still in the tunnel were being led to safety, Taiwan's railway administration said.

A section of a train that derailed inside a tunnel in the mountains of Hualien, in eastern Taiwan on Friday.

Images of the crash scene show carriages inside the tunnel ripped apart from the impact, while others crumpled, hindering rescuers reaching passengers.

An investigation has been launched into the crash, and there was no immediate word about any arrests.

The vehicle apparently hit after the locomotive had emerged, causing the greatest damage to cars 1-5, according to the rescue department of Hualien county.

'Our train crashed into a truck, ' one man said in a video aired on Taiwanese television, showing pictures of the wreckage.

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March 8, 1981: A train hit a truck near Hsinchu on a level crossing, killing the truck driver and 30 passengers on the train. The lightly populated east where the crash happened is popular with tourists, many of whom travel there by train to avoid mountain roads.

About 50 volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation stationed at an aid tent near the crash site said children were among the dozens who escaped the train cars.

President Tsai Ing-wen said she had ordered hospitals to prepare for a mass casualty event. "We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident".

Apple Daily newspaper said the island's worst crash was in 1948 when 64 died.

The accident came on the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival, an annual religious festival when people travel to their hometowns for family gatherings and to worship at the graves of their ancestors.

That crash was the island's worst since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli.

Taiwan's extensive rail system has undergone substantial upgrades in recent years, particularly with the addition of a high-speed line connecting the capital Taipei with west coast cities to the south.

A section of a derailed train is seen cordoned off near the Taroko Gorge area in Hualien, Taiwan, on Friday.

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