At least 18 people are dead and 168 others injured after an express train in Taiwan derailed Sunday, flipping and toppling carrier cars onto their sides, the Associated Press reported. The train wreck was the island’s worst in decades.
The Puyuma Express train, commonly used by tourists, was en route from Shulin to Taitung with 366 passengers onboard. The derailment occurred around 5 p.m. local time in Lian County in northern Taiwan, along a curve.
Jason Lu, head of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said that all eight carriages derailed and five flipped, and that there were “four carriages that were overturned at 90 degrees and the worst casualties were in those carriages,” according to Agence France-Presse.
The cause is unknown, though survivors described extreme shaking and electrical outages throughout the final ride.
“All of a sudden, I found myself being thrown out of my seat and some other passengers were flipped out of the windows,” a former soldier told cable television network SET, according to the South China Morning Post.
The AP reported that the Taiwanese government previously put the death toll as high as 22, but “the National Fire Agency, citing the Cabinet spokesman’s office, later reduced that figure and blamed a miscalculation.”
The six-year-old train was in “pretty good condition,” according to Taiwan Railways Administration deputy chief Lu Chieh-shen, the BBC reported. The agency also promised to compensate families of the deceased with $81,000 each.
President Tsai Ing-wen called the train crash a “major tragedy.”
The Defense Ministry deployed 120 soldiers for the rescue efforts, and an AFP reporter said bodies continue to be removed from the debris.
According to the South China Morning Post, one American is believed to have been injured. The Hong Kong Immigration Department reported that it was not aware of any injured Hong Kong residents.
Sunday’s derailment is the country’s deadliest since a 1981 collision that killed 30, and is the third fatal accident since 2003. A train traveling toward a mountain tourist destination crashed that year, killing 17 passengers and injuring 156 others. In 2011, a toppled tree caused a train crash that killed six and injured at least 50 others.