More than 170 people were also injured in the crash which took place at 4.50pm local time on Sunday 21 October.
All eight of the train’s carriages derailed as it was travelling through Northeast Taiwan.
The accident occurred close to Xinma station and around 70km (43 miles) from Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
At least 17 people reported dead and dozens hurt after passenger train derails in Taiwan https://t.co/2Vei0YTZ4A
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 21, 2018
The cause of the Taiwan train derailment is still unclear
Local authorities say they have now freed everyone who was trapped in the train.
Speaking to reporters, Lu Chieh-shen, the Deputy Chief of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said that the train had been in “pretty good condition” and was only six years old.
Witnesses heard a loud noise and then saw smoke before the train derailed.
More than 100 soldiers arrived on the scene to help with the rescue efforts. Defence Ministry Spokesperson Chen Chung-chi said the train derailed when it came to a curve in the track. “Their train car turned over,” he said.
“They were crushed so they died right away.”
30-year-old Henry Tseng was one of the train’s passengers. He offered Reuters a first-hand account of the crash.
“The train was going very fast. I thought to myself: Why was it not slowing down on a curve?,” he said.
“I hit a wall when the car started to flip. Around five to six people were thrown out of the carriage door…There’s no time to think what happened. Everyone was in a rush to get out,” he added.
At least 22 people have been killed and 171 others injured after a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan, according to the country's transport ministry https://t.co/Yt4VZAGOiD pic.twitter.com/HYcyZRxkUm
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) October 21, 2018
Train was part of the Puyuma service
Local television reported that some passengers were breaking windows to escape from the wreckage and that bystanders helped some people out of the crushed carriages before first responders arrived.
The express train was part of the Puyuma service which opened in 2013 and navigates a winding path through Taiwan’s East Coast. It travels at speeds of up to 150km (93 miles) per hour, the fastest train in the country outside its high-speed rail network.
Authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.
Header image: Daniel Shih/Getty Images