A train carrying nearly 500 staff and passengers from Taipei to Taitung in Taiwan derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien City on Friday, killing at least 51 people and injuring dozens more, according to the latest reports from the Wall Street Journal.
Some passengers were trapped in the tunnel after the derailment, and rescuers attempted to reach them as other passengers with moderate to serious injuries were sent to nearby hospitals, UPI reported.
Only some of the eight carriages of the train were inside the tunnel when it derailed, and those carriages were said to have crashed into the walls of the tunnel and broken apart. Rescuers reportedly expected they may find more bodies inside the tunnel when the rest of the wreckage is removed.
Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said that rescuers responded quickly to the accident. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident,” she said in a statement, according to UPI.
The cause of the crash
The Wall Street Journal reported that the derailment happened around 9:30 a.m. local time, and that at least 188 passengers were taken to hospitals after it occurred.
According to The Guardian, an improperly parked construction truck is believed to have caused the accident when it slid down an embankment and ended up on the tracks.
The construction manager who allegedly parked the truck was arrested for causing the wreck, but was later released on bail, The Guardian reported. He is restricted from leaving Taiwan, however.
The court was sure that the accident had not been intentionally caused, but may have been caused by negligence.
At least two Americans killed
At least some children were killed in the crash, reports said, and two Americans were among those killed, with one U.S. national still missing.
“Chairs were mangled, objects were scattered all over the floor, and blood was everywhere,” fire department official Lin Chi-feng said, according to The Guardian. “It was heartbreaking to see so many children and infants die in the accident.”
Tsai, for her part, visited the 40 or so people still in the hospital on Saturday, and pledged to help them in their recovery, The Guardian said.
It is expected to take roughly a week to complete the removal of the remaining wreckage and repair the tracks and tunnel.