Dozens of people have been killed in a train crash in eastern Taiwan, which could be the worst railway disaster in the country in decades.
At least 48 people were killed and 66 were injured, the transport ministry said. Firefighters said the death toll was likely to rise.
The train, carrying 350 people and traveling from Taipei to the southeastern city of Taitung, derailed on Friday morning near Qingshui, a picturesque part of the coast where marble cliffs descend into the Pacific Ocean.
The government said the accident is believed to have been caused by a construction vehicle that derailed from the highway. The train derailed after the collision with the vehicle and then hit the wall of the tunnel.
The first four of the train’s eight wagons were deformed, and half of the driver’s cab was cut off, according to the transport ministry and local media accounts. Rescuers needed access to the train by noon.
The crash happened on the first day of a four-day vacation, which is usually a busy trip. Many Taipei residents travel east, a popular tourist destination, and people with headquarters return home.
Footage from the location, which was broadcast on local television, showed passengers walking along the railway line.
In 2018, a railway accident in northeastern Taiwan killed 18 people and injured 175.
Eastern Taiwan is blocked from the rest of the island by high mountain ranges. The area where the accident happened is known for dangerous traffic conditions. The only road that connects the eastern capital of Hualien with the north of the island passes on steep cliffs with narrow bends in several places.
A year ago, an improved road was opened that bypasses some of the most dangerous sections with tunnels. Due to the frequent slopes of the stone, the old road also requires almost constant repairs.