Approximately 18 deaths were recorded after a train in Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan went off its track, resulting in five out of its eight carriages being overturned in a crash on Sunday (12 Oct), according to Taiwanese authorities.
The Puyuma Express No. 6432, which was carrying 366 passengers on board, was en route to the southeastern county of Taitung when it abruptly derailed near Xinma Station in Yilan County, around 5 p.m. local time.
Rescuers and dozens of military personnel were seen on ground in search of survivors, with ambulances stationed nearby, as seen from footage on local television.
According to findings by the local railway authority, the crash, which took place on a line popular with tourists, saw one American citizen sustaining injuries, while the rest of the persons involved are Taiwanese.
Train services in both directions have since been suspended for the time being.
Speaking at a news conference, Deputy Chief of Taiwan Railways Administration Lu Chieh-shen said: “The train was in pretty good condition,” adding that the railway authorities will investigate into the cause of the derailment and the subsequent crash.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has tweeted about the tragedy, stating that she has instructed all government agencies and the military to "step up rescue efforts":
Today (21 Oct), she tweeted the following:
The derailment precedes local elections, which will take place islandwide, and is predicted to put a damper on Ms Tsai’s ruling party’s popularity in the presidential elections around two years from now.