At least 36 people were killed and dozens were injured after a train that apparently collided with a truck derailed in Taiwan on Friday.
The country’s fire department said 350 people were on board the train, which is believed to include many tourists and those returning home at the beginning of the long holiday weekend.
The crash is the most serious railway disaster on the island in decades.
Chairman Tsai Ing-wen said on Twitter: “Our emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue and assist the affected passengers and railway staff.
“After this heartbreaking incident, we will continue to make every effort to ensure their safety.”
The official Central News Agency said a truck that was “not parked correctly” was suspected of slipping into the train track. The fire department showed a photo showing the wreckage of a truck next to the train.
The fire department said that the express service from the capital Taipei to Taitung on the southeast coast was separated from the railway, and part of it was in a tunnel north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan.
Images from the accident site showed that some cars in the tunnel split due to the impact, while others were crumpled, preventing rescuers from reaching the passengers.
Officials said 44 people have been taken to the hospital.
The accident happened on the first day of the four-day grave sweeping festival, which is an annual religious festival where people go to their hometowns to hold family gatherings and worship in the graves of their ancestors.
Taiwan is a mountainous island, and most of its 24 million people are crowded on the flat land along the northern and western coasts. The sparsely populated east is popular with tourists, many of whom arrive along the coastal railway line to avoid the steep mountain roads.
The railway line from Taipei to the east coast is famous for its tunnels and routes, which are close to the coast north of Hualien where the accident occurred.
In recent years, Taiwan’s extensive railway system has undergone major upgrades, especially the addition of a high-speed railway connecting the capital Taipei with the southern city.
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.
Associated Press Contributed.