At least 36 dead as train derails in Taiwan

At least 36 dead as  train derails in Taiwan

A train derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan on Friday after apparently hitting a truck, with at least 36 people feared dead and more than 72 injured, as rescuers struggled to reach crushed carriages, the government said.

The train, travelling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien causing some carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the fire department said in a statement.

The transport ministry put the death toll in the island's worst rail disaster in more than three decades at 36. More than 72 people were injured, with around 60 already sent to hospital. The train was carrying around 350 people, and rescue efforts are ongoing, the fire department said.

Footage and photographs provided by Taiwan's National Fire Agency showed passengers standing around the derailed train inside the tunnel. A woman's voice can be heard shouting, "Carriage four, has everyone come out?"

Between 80 to 100 people have been evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight have "deformed" and are hard to gain access to, it added.

The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day.