Taiwan: Train derailment kills 18 people

Taipei – Eighteen people were killed and at least 160 others were 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. (4:50 a.m. ET), the Taiwan central government said in a statement.

The National Fire Agency cited the Cabinet spokesman’s office as saying that 18 people were killed and that 160 others were injured.

Some passengers were crushed to death, said Chen Chung-chi, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry. “Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away,” Chen said.

It was unclear how many people may still be trapped in the train, said the spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. About 120 soldiers joined firefighters in their rescue work.

The Puyuma, which was launched in 2013 to handle the very difficult topography of Taiwan’s east coast, is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast. The trains travel up to 93 mph, faster than any other in Taiwan except for high-speed rail.

The train that derailed is six years old, and its most recent inspection and major maintenance took place in 2017, Lu Chie-shen director of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said at a news conference. (AP)