A Puyuma express train that derailed at 4:50 p.m.in Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan Sunday has caused 18 deaths and left 168 injured, including 10 seriously injured, as of 10 p.m. according to the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).
The National Fire Agency cited the Cabinet spokesman's office as saying 22 people were killed and 171 injured. "They were crushed, so they died right away".
Soldiers have been removing bodies to identify them, he added, but nightfall was complicating rescue work. Five cars were turned on their sides.
A government spokesperson stated that it is now unclear how many people were trapped in the train, adding that most of the deaths were in the first vehicle.
The train was carrying 366 passengers when the accident occurred just before 5 pm local time, the transport ministry said.
Video footage of the aftermath of the crash, broadcast on local Taiwan television, showed passengers smashing a window from inside and kicking it through to escape.
Passengers who survived the accident recalled how the train had been shaking intensely during the journey and was going "very fast" before it derailed, reported Agence France-Presse.
The derailment caused five out of eight carriages to overturn. The train, which reaches maximum speeds of 150kmh, had been in service for only six years and underwent comprehensive maintenance work only recently, he noted.
Taiwanese authorities have confirmed that at least 17 people have been killed and more than 120 others injured after a high-speed train derailed in the north east of the country.
"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.
And in March 2003, a train derailed near a popular mountain resort, killing 17 people and hurting more than 100 people.
Sunday's derailment was at least the third deadly rail accident in Taiwan since 2003.