Dozens dead and rescue operations still underway as train derails inside tunnel in Taiwan

The country’s president has described the crash as a ‘heartbreaking incident’

Dozens of people have died and more are injured after a train derailed inside a tunnel in Taiwan.

The train was carrying around 350 people through the Qingshui tunnel in Huaelien county, eastern Taiwan, on the first day of a long holiday weekend.

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Taiwan’s transport ministry said that 36 passengers who “had no signs of life” were recovered from the wreckage, while another 44 had been sent to hospital with injuries.

Dozens dead and rescue operations still underway as train derails inside tunnel in Taiwan (Photo: Shutterstock)

The country’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, referred to the crash as a “heartbreaking incident” and said emergency services have been “fully mobilised”.

More than 150 emergency services workers including fire, search and rescue and military staff are currently involved in the rescue operation.

How did the accident happen?

The cause of the incident has not been confirmed, although reports from the scene suggest that an engineering truck may have slid down from a nearby road onto the tracks.

The train was made up of eight carriages, with between 80 and 100 people evacuated relatively quickly from the front four carriages.

However, the back three carriages were described as “deformed” and hard to access, and authorities have confirmed that most of those confirmed dead so far were in the back two carriages.

There are reports that these back carriages are difficult to access and people may still be trapped inside.

Footage from the scene shows people walking along the top of the front carriages emerging from the tunnel, as well as heavily damaged carriages smashed up against the tunnel’s inside walls behind them.

Where was the train headed?

The 408 Taroko Express train came off the rails in the Qingshui tunnel, north of Hualien city, headed toward Taitung.

It is one of the fastest trains on Taiwan’s network, reaching speeds of up to 130km/h.

The route is a popular one which runs along the Taroko national park in the popular east coast region of the island.

This weekend marks the start of Taiwan’s Tomb Sweeping holiday, which sees people travel all over the island to meet with friends and relatives, meaning public transport is likely to be particularly busy.