At least 36 people were killed and dozens more injured when a train derailed in Taiwan on Friday after apparently colliding with a truck.
According to the country’s fire department, the train carried around 350 people, including many tourists and people who were driving home at the beginning of a long holiday weekend.
The crash is the island’s worst rail disaster in decades.
“Our emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue and support the affected passengers and railway personnel,” said President Tsai Ing-wen said on twitter.
“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure your safety after this heartbreaking incident.”
The official Central News Agency said a truck that was “improperly parked” was suspected of slipping in the path of the train. The fire department showed a picture of the wreck of the truck next to the derailed train.
The express service, which ran from the capital Taipei to Taitung on the southeast coast, came off the rails while part of it was in a tunnel north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan, the fire department said.
Pictures of the crash scene show some cars in the tunnel being torn from the impact while others collapsed, preventing rescuers from reaching passengers.
According to official information, 44 people had been hospitalized.
The accident occurred on the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival, an annual religious festival where people travel to their hometowns to hold family celebrations and worship at the graves of their ancestors.
Taiwan is a mountainous island with most of the 24 million people living on flatlands along the north and west coasts. The lightly populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal tram lines to avoid treacherous mountain roads.
Taipei’s railway line along the east coast is known for its tunnels and routes that hug the coast north of Hualien, where the crash took place.
Taiwan’s extensive rail system has been modernized significantly in recent years, notably with the addition of a high-speed rail link connecting the capital Taipei with cities in the south.
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The Associated Press contributed.