Taiwan express train derailment kills 22, injures over 130

Several carriages flipped during the accident in Yilan County

Some 310 people were aboard the train bound for Taitung from New Taipei, and an estimated 30 to 40 people were trapped in the wreckage, reports said.

It went off the rails at about 4.50pm local time close to Xinma station, near the town of Su'ao, the Taiwan central government said.

Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.

Hong Kong's broadcaster RTHK reported another passenger saying the train had been preparing to accelerate before overturning and had been shaking intensely, adding that some passengers were asleep at the time of the accident.

"This is something that is not supposed to happen when taking a train", said Mr Chen Tai-liang, whose niece, a seventh grader, was killed.

An AFP reporter at the scene said that more bodies were being brought out of the wrecked carriages.

Photos of the scene show the Pyuma Express lying zig-zagged across the track.

Hours after the accident, one of the eight cars was still tipped over at about a 75-degree angle, with the entire right side destroyed.

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Most of the deaths were in the first auto, which flipped over, a government spokesman said.

Hundreds of rescuers scrambled to tend to the injured passengers.

Whether the derailment was caused by human error or technical malfunction remains under probe, Central News Agency reported citing Wu Tze-cheng, head of the task force set up to investigate the fatal accident.

In a statement, the ministry said: "The Singapore Government is saddened to learn of the loss of lives caused by the train derailment in Yilan County yesterday".

"The train stopped twice and we were told that there were problems that needed fix, but the train restarted not long after", one passenger who identified herself as Mrs Chiu told reporters.

The train accident is the deadliest in Taiwan since 1991, when a collision in Miaoli County, in the island's north-west, killed 31 people.

Searchers walked through an upright vehicle with flashlights. "The train was going very fast". "We will make the whole thing transparent'". "We trusted the safety of Puyuma", she said, referring to the express train line. The hospital had treated 65 people total. Five people were killed.

The Taiwan Railways Administration bought the Puyama from Japan's Nippon Sharyo in 2011 in a 30 billion yen (US$260 million) deal.

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