A train derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan on Friday after apparently hitting a truck, with at least 36 people feared dead and more than 72 injured, as rescuers struggled to reach crushed carriages, the government said.

The train, travelling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien.PHOTOS: 鄭榮貴/FACEBOOK

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue and Michael Perry

The train, traveling to Taitung, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien causing some carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel, the fire department said in a statement.

The transport ministry put the death toll in the island’s worst rail disaster in more than three decades at 36.

More than 72 people were injured, with around 60 already sent to hospital.

The train was carrying around 350 people, and rescue efforts are ongoing, the fire department said.

Between 80 to 100 people have been evacuated from the first four carriages of the train, while carriages five to eight have “deformed” and are hard to gain access to, it added.

“Is everyone out in carriage four?” a lady is heard shouting from inside the tunnel, in images provided by the fire department.

The official Central News Agency said a truck that was “not parked properly” was suspected of sliding into the path of the train. The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage lying next to part of the derailed train.

The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day.

Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination.

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