At least 70 other people are also believed to be trapped in the wreckage of the eight-carriage train, which was travelling from Taipei along the east coast towards Taitung at the time of the accident.
The 408 Taroko Express train was carrying 350 people when it came off the tracks at 9:28 a.m. local time in Qingshui tunnel, north of Hualien, according to the Taiwan Railways Administration. It has been reported that 41 people, including the train driver, have died as a result of the crash. Many reports note that as the train was very busy, some people were forced to stand, and subsequently thrown through the air as the train derailed.
A preliminary investigation suggested that the train hit a truck belonging to an engineering maintenance team, which had rolled onto the track after its brakes failed, Taiwan Railways said.
Over 150 emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene. President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on Twitter: “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heart-breaking incident.”
Thousands travel to mark the beginning of Tomb Sweeping holiday
Reports notes that many people were travelling for the long holiday weekend, which marks the beginning of the Tomb Sweeping holiday, when thousands of people usually travel across the island to clean the graves of their ancestors.
Al Jazeera reports that Taiwan’s last major railway accident was in 2018 when a passenger train in eastern Taiwan’s Yilan derailed, leaving 18 people dead.
In early January, an Indonesian plane crashed into the Java sea. Following this, the Indonesian transport industry faced severe scrutiny over the safety of its services.