Taipei, April 2 (CNA) Forty-eight people have been confirmed dead in an accident involving a Taroko Express train in Hualien County that was heading south toward Hualien and Taitung on Friday morning, according to the latest update by the National Fire Agency.
Another 66 passengers on the eight-carriage train suffered moderate to severe injuries and were sent to six hospitals in the eastern Taiwan county for treatment, the agency said.
The accident occurred at 9:28 a.m. as the express train slammed into a crane truck as it was about to enter the Chingshui Tunnel, according to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), which operates the Taroko Express trains.
The crane truck had been parked on a hill above the track, but authorities suspect the truck driver did not engage the emergency brake, and the truck slid down the hill and fell onto the track.
The first five carriages of the train lost control and piled up inside the narrow, single-track tunnel, which complicated rescue efforts, the TRA said.
As of 4 p.m., however, all passengers had been removed from the train, according to the National Fire Agency. At least 350 people were on the train when the accident occurred.