A passenger train in Taiwan derailed on Friday Apr. 2, leaving at least 50 people dead and about 150 injured in the country’s deadliest railway accident in decades.
The Taroko Express train had been traveling from the capital of Taipei to the eastern coastal city of Taitung on the first day of the Tomb Sweeping long weekend holiday, when it derailed around 9:30 a.m. in a tunnel near Qingshui Cliff, a popular tourist destination.
It had been carrying around 350 passengers, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.
It is believed to have collided with a construction vehicle that had rolled down a hill onto the track before derailing as it entered a tunnel, according to local media reports.
Several of eight carriages hit the walls of the tunnel, causing the search for survivors to continue until evening as rescue workers struggled to get to the train cars deep inside.
Videos showed rescuers carrying injured passengers out on stretchers while survivors rolled suitcases over the roof of the train as they left the wreck.
Some passengers recalled smashing the windows of their carriage with their luggage in an attempt to escape, according to the New York Times.
A railway official said they believed the driver of the construction vehicle may have parked on a slope near the entrance of the tunnel and forgotten to engage the emergency brake.
On Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen visited victims in a hospital in Hualien, while grieving relatives held prayers at the crash site. Flags across Taiwan will be flown at half mast for three days.
The Taroko Express is one of Taiwan’s fastest trains, with an average speed of around 80 miles or 128 kilometers per hour.
Taiwan’s last major train accident occurred in 2018, when a train derailed in Yilan County in the northeast of Taiwan, on another coastal route popular among tourists. That accident left 18 people dead and 170 others injured.