UPDATE: Taiwan East Coast Rail Crash in Yilan Kills 18, Injures 148

UPDATE: Taiwan East Coast Rail Crash in Yilan Kills 18, Injures 148
Photo Credit: 中央社
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The crash is the worst on Taiwan's railways since 2003.

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23:09 Updating with details from latest Executive Yuan and TRA press conference news. including death and injury toll revisions

A train crash in northeast Taiwan has resulted in the deaths of at least 18 people and injuries to a further 148, according to latest reports from the Executive Yuan.

Reports from the Ministry and of Health and Welfare indicate 79 people have been registered at hospitals in Yilan County, including one U.S. national. There were 366 people onboard the train.

Speaking at a press conference late this evening, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) Director Lu Jieh-shen (鹿潔身) said the majority of casualties occurred within four carriages that flipped 90 degrees onto their sides in the crash.

普悠瑪台鐵宜蘭翻覆
Photo Credit: 中央社
Reports indicate at least 22 people have died in a crash in Yilan County after eight carriages of a Puyama Express service to Taitung derailed and five overturned.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the Puyama Express (train D6432) from Shulin in New Taipei City to Taitung City in southeast Taiwan crashed near Xinma Station near Su-ao in Yilan County. Eight cars derailed and five overturned, according to reports from the TRA and the Executive Yuan.

A total of 60 emergency vehicles and more than 250 rescue personnel were dispatched to the scene, which was overseen by Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀).

The Puyama Express is a tilting train service capable of traveling 150 km per hour and is the fastest train operated by the TRA.

The accident is the worst in Taiwan since the derailment of the Alishan mountain railway in 2003, when 17 people died and 156 were injured after part of the train plunged into a chasm.

台鐵6432次普悠瑪
Photo Credit: 中央社
Rescue teams and survivors at the scene of the crash near Xinma Station in Yilan County, northeast Taiwan.

Mobile phone footage shot at the scene and published by Apple Daily shows cars strewn across twisted rail tracks, and shellshocked passengers emerging from the wreckage.

The TRA has formed a disaster response team to investigate the crash site, while firefighting and medical disaster response teams, including an Air Force helicopter, have been placed on standby. The Yilan County fire service dispatched 33 fire trucks to assist, while several other local fire services and the army also sent support vehicles.

台鐵6432次普悠瑪
Photo Credit: 中央社
The Ministry of Defense dispatched army personnel and ambulances to the scene of the crash.

Passengers on the train told Apple Daily that they experienced several instances of emergency braking before hearing a “bump” immediately before the carriages flipped.

The crash is the worst in the history of the Puyama Express, which was inaugurated in 2012. TRA officials said during a press conference this evening that the service had a complete maintenance check in 2017.

台鐵6432次普悠瑪-6
Credit: CNA
Taiwan Railway Administration Director General Lu Jieh-shen (鹿潔身) (R) addresses a press conference shortly after the crash.

Replacement bus services are in operation from Hualien to Yilan and extra flights have been arranged to depart from Hualien Airport amid reports of passengers stranded at train stations up and down the east coast.

An estimated 10,000 train passengers are affected by the delays and cancellations.

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