Taiwan: Nearly 50 killed as train crashes and derails in tunnel

At least fifty people were killed and dozens more were injured after a train carrying nearly 500 crashed and then derailed in a tunnel in Taiwan.

The eight carriage train reportedly hit a construction vehicle that had slipped onto the tracks at the tunnel’s mouth.

Rescuers combed badly damaged carriages inside the tunnel to find survivors, some of whom smashed windows to flee.

The train, from the capital Taipei to Taitung, was carrying people travelling for a long-weekend annual holiday.

Many people may have been standing because the train was so full.

The 408 train is one of the fastest deployed on a network that is generally considered safe. It can reach speeds of 130km/h.

President Tsai Ing-wen has sent her condolences to the families of the victims and ordered an investigation.

Local media reports say the train driver is among the dead.

A construction project has been under way near the north end of the tunnel. It is not known how the vehicle slipped down the embankment.

Friday’s crash is Taiwan’s worst rail disaster in decades. The island’s worst crash previously was in 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided.