A busy eight car passenger train carrying 490 people, traveling to Taitung, has derailed in Qingshui Tunnel in eastern Taiwan, just north of Hualien, on April 2, killing at least 50 and injuring at least 156. The train driver was among the dead. At least 69 survivors were being treated in several hospitals in the surrounding Hualien County. Officials said a French citizen was killed in the crash, while two Japanese citizens and a citizen of Macau were among those injured. Possibly, the derailment could have been caused by a construction vehicle which slipped from a slope near the tunnel and hit the moving train. Images of the crash scene show carriages inside the tunnel crumbled and ripped apart from the impact. A big rescue operation was underway.
Authorities were checking to see if anyone was still unaccounted for. “In response to a train derailment in Hualien, Taiwan, our emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Twitter. The government has also laid out a compensation plan for every passenger. Those badly injured will each receive $91,000. The 408 train is one of the fastest deployed on a network that is generally considered safe. It can reach speeds of 130km/h (80mph). In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan, in the island’s worst rail disaster.