- The lightly populated east on the breakaway Chinese Province of Taiwan is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal railway lines to avoid treacherous mountain roads.
- A passenger train with more than 400 passengers smashed into a vehicle on its tracks and partially derailed outside a rail tunnel in Taiwan on Friday.
- At least 36 people were killed and many injured. Survivors were climbing out windows and onto roofs to reach safety in the island’s worst railway disaster in decades.
Survivors were climbing out windows and onto roofs to reach safety in the island’s worst railway disaster in decades.
The crash occurred near the Toroko Gorge scenic area around 9 a.m. on a public holiday, and officials in Hualien county said rescue efforts were continuing. The media reported more than 400 passengers were on board.
Reports said a truck or some type of service vehicle fell from a cliff and landed on the tracks, where a train emerging from a tunnel smashed into it. With much of the train still trapped in the tunnel, escaping passengers were forced to scale doors, windows and roofs to reach safety.
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.
Television footage and photos posted by people at the scene on the website of the official Central News Agency showed people climbing out the open door of a railcar just outside the entrance to the tunnel. The inside of one car was pushed all the way into the adjacent seat.
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.
Taiwan is a mountainous island where most of its 24 million people are squeezed onto flatlands along the northern and western coasts. The lightly populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal railway lines to avoid treacherous mountain roads.
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.