At least 18 dead, 175 injured in Taiwan train derailment

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Photo taken on Oct. 22, 2018 shows the derailed coaches of the Puyuma Express bound for Taitung from Shulin Station with 366 passengers on board. Xinhua

TAIPEI (Reuters) –At least 18 people were killed and 175 injured after an express train derailed and flipped over on a popular coastal tourist route in Taiwan, the island’s worst rail accident for more than 25 years.

The accident took place in Yilan County about 4.50pm local time on Sunday, with several carriages overturned on a coastal railway popular among tourists.

All of the train’s eight carriages had derailed and five had flipped onto their side near Xinma station, the railways administration said, adding that 366 people were on board the service en route to the southern city of Taitung.

As of 9.35pm, all passengers onboard – including the dead and injured – had been evacuated or removed from the wreckage, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.

“There are four carriages that were overturned at 90 degrees and the worst casualties were in those carriages,” Jason Lu, head of the Taiwan Railways Administration told reporters.

“The exact cause of the accident is pending investigation,” he added.

Cranes were brought in to lift the carriages from the tracks one by one overnight in a search for any remaining passengers.

The defence ministry said it had sent in 120 soldiers to help the rescue.

President Tsai Ing-wen described the accident as a “major tragedy” in a tweet on Sunday evening. “My thoughts are with all the victims and their families,” she added.

The crash was the worst rail accident in Taiwan since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli.

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