UPDATE: The death toll has risen to 54, making the train crash on Friday Taiwan's worst rail disaster in more than 30 years. The officials said more than 150 people are injured. They said this number can also rise as full reports come in from the rescue teams.
ORIGINAL STORY: At least 36 people have been killed in a horrific train crash in Taiwan. Reports say scores more have been injured in the accident. The rail mishap occurred in north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan.
One of the biggest accidents in Taiwan's railway history happened when an express train derailed in a tunnel after hitting a truck. The train was travelling from Taipei to Taitung. As many as 350 people, many of them tourists, were onboard the train when the mishap occurred.
The train derailed near the entrance of the Daqingshui Tunnel, the fire department said.
The rescue efforts are going on, the ministry said, adding that many people are still trapped inside the carriage. The fire department added that between 80 and 100 passengers were evacuated from the train's first four cars. Early footage that circulated online showed mangled carriages lying off the track inside the tunnel. Some reports say as many as 72 people still remain trapped in the deformed cabins.
Taiwan's official Central News Agency said that the truck that apparently caused the accident was not parked 'properly. It cited eyewitnesses saying that the truck slid down the path of the train, causing the crash.
The accident on Friday, which happened even as Taiwanese were preparing to observe the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day over the long weekend, was the deadliest in years. In 2018, 18 people died when a train derailed in the northeast of the country. Some 30 people were killed in a train collision in 1981.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen said the government machinery is working full on to help the passengers. "In response to a train derailment in Hualien, Taiwan, our emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected ... We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident," the President said.