In a spine-chilling incident that took place in northeastern Taiwan on Sunday, October 21, afternoon, a passenger train derailed on a popular tourist route killing at least 18 people and injuring over 170.
The Puyuma Express train was on the way to Taitung from Shulin and went off the tracks near Xinma Station in Yilan County. The train had 336 passengers on board and many of them were crushed to death when all the eight carriages derailed, reported the Agence France-Presse.
What we know so far
- Rescue operations are underway at the site, and workers said that they faced quite some difficulty as it had recently rained and the ground was wet.
- About 120 soldiers and rescue personnel are at work.
- All the eight carriages are said to have derailed and while some turned sideways, four carriages had turned "90 degrees." The worst casualties have been reported from these carriages.
- "Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away," the Associated Press quoted Chen Chung-chi, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, as saying.
- The cause of the accident hasn't been ascertained yet and it is being called the worse train mishap in Taiwan in about 27 years.
- While an investigation is underway, the BBC reported that railway officials have said the six-year-old train was in "pretty good condition."
- Survivors have spoken of terrifying shaking and power outages in the carriages when the mishap took place.
- "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, reported the South China Morning Post.
- Another passenger told Reuters that everything happened in seconds and passengers didn't even have the time to react.
- "The train was going very fast. I hit a wall when the car started to flip. Around five to six people were thrown out of the carriage door," Henry Tseng said. "There [was] no time to think what happened. Everyone was in a rush to get out."
- "I smashed the safety glass and crawled out and I helped to pull a young man out," another passenger added. "There was a person sitting behind me. I'm not sure she survived."
- A passenger, who later spoke to reporters, said that the train had halted twice before it went off the tracks and that a lot of them felt that the speed was very high.
- Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen visited the site on Monday, October 22, morning and asked investigators to "clarify the situation."
- "At this difficult time let us all pray for the injured and hope the deceased can rest in peace," she said.
- The Taiwan railways has now promised to help victims and also pay a $81,000 each compensation to the family of the deceased.
- Train services have partially been resumed.
The internet is flooded with terrifying images and videos of the accident. Take a look.