ADDS NUMBER OF INJURIES
By Riyaz ul Khaliq, Emel Oz and Ahmet Furkan Mercan
ANKARA/TOKYO (AA) – At least 51 people were killed, including 49 passengers, and dozens of others sustained injuries in a train accident in eastern Taiwan early Friday, according to official media.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency said the death toll included the driver of the train that derailed after hitting a construction crane truck as it entered the Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien county at 9.28 a.m. (0128GMT).
At least 146 passengers suffered injuries and some have been transported to the hospital, the National Fire Agency said in a statement, that added relief and rescue operations are ongoing.
The eight-carriage passenger Taroko Express train was carrying more than 350 passengers, according to the agency.
The fourth and fifth carriages were heavily damaged, while firefighters and search and rescue teams have been referred to the area.
President Tsai Ing-wen said emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue and assist passengers and railway staff affected by the accident.
“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident,” she said on Twitter.
Officials said it will take at least seven days to repair the damaged rail tracks.
The driver of the crane truck is being questioned by police.
Mainland China, which considers Taiwan its territory, expressed sympathy with victims of the accident.
“The mainland is highly concerned about the rescue progress,” said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.