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Taiwan tourist train crash leaves 18 dead, 168 injured

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 21/10/2018 Lawrence Chung and Liu Zhen
a train on a steel track © Facebook

At least 18 people were killed and 168 injured when a tourist train derailed in Yilan, northern Taiwan, on Sunday, in the worst accident of its kind on the island for 37 years.

The Taiwan Railway Administration said earlier that the death toll had risen to 22 but later found that “four additional deaths” were double calculation at hospitals.

“The Puyuma Express train, with 366 passengers aboard, overturned at 4.50pm near Hsinma station in Suao township,” Lu Chieh-sheng, director of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said.

Most of the victims died on the train while others succumbed to their injuries in hospital, he said.

A further 168 people were hurt and had been taken to four nearby hospitals for treatment, he said.

a helicopter parked in a parking lot © Facebook

Lu said the cause of the accident was still being investigated.

However, the driver of the train was quoted by local news media as saying he felt something on the track as it was going around a bend.

The service is popular with tourists and an American woman is reported to have been among those injured. The Hong Kong Immigration Department said there had been no reports of any Hongkongers being hurt, but a spokesman for the department said he was in contact with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.

a group of people waiting to board a bus © Facebook

Television footage showed how the train appeared to have jackknifed, with five of its eight carriages lying on their sides, and the track itself damaged.

In television reports, passengers said the train, which was en route from Shulin to Taitung in eastern Taiwan, was travelling much faster than usual as it went through three curves leading to Hsinma station, where it was not scheduled to stop.

“All of a sudden, I found myself being thrown out of my seat and some other passengers were flipped out of the windows,” a former soldier told cable television network SET.

A teacher was quoted by United Daily News as saying the train stopped several times before the accident, while other passengers repeated that claim.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier William Lai told relevant authorities to do all they can to assist the rescue effort and the people involved.

The railway administration said the families of those killed in the crash would receive compensation of NT$2.5 million (US$81,000).

In 1981, 30 people were killed and 130 injured when a train derailed and plunged into a river after hitting a truck on a railway crossing near the city of Hsinchu in northern Taiwan.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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