TAIPEI – Twenty-two people were killed and at least 132 others injured Sunday when one of Taiwan’s newer, faster trains derailed on a curve along a popular weekend route, officials said.
The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 366 passengers from a suburb of Taipei toward Taitung, a city on Taiwan’s southeast coast, when it went off the tracks at 4:50 p.m., the central government said in a statement.
The injured are being treated in four different hospitals, and one of those hurt is a U.S. citizen.
Photos from the scene just south of the city of Luodong showed the train’s eight cars in a zig-zag formation near the tracks, some on their sides. Most of the deaths were in the first car, which flipped over, a government spokesman said.
Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. “Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away,” Chen said.
Local television reports said passengers were trying to escape through train windows and that bystanders had gathered to help them before rescuers arrived.
It’s unclear how many people were still trapped in the train, said the spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. More than 20 soldiers had joined firefighters in their rescue work as of 8 p.m.
The train is six years old and its most recent inspection and major maintenance took place in 2017, Taiwan Railways Administration Director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the derailment.