The crash was the worst rail accident in Taiwan since 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided in Miaoli.
The Taiwan Railways Administration confirmed the toll and said more than 70 people had also been injured in the accident in northeastern Yilan county.
This handout photo made available by the Taiwan Railway Administration on October 21 2018, shows the scene after the Puyuma Express train derailed near Xinma station in Taiwan's northeastern Yilan county.
Think your friends would be interested? "They were crushed, so they died right away", Chen said.
A total of 366 people were onboard the high-speed train when all eight of its carriages derailed.
But the precise cause of the derailment is not yet known.
Taiwan's national fire agency cited the cabinet spokesman's office as saying 18 people were killed and 160 injured. The trains travel up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for high-speed rail.More news: Sadio Mane injury update
An official from the Taiwan Railways Administration said the train driver reported a pressure device used for braking had malfunctioned 30 minutes before the accident, but that it should not have caused the train to go too fast.
Numerous casualties happened in a carriage at the front of the train, said one official, adding that the driver, surnamed You, has been moved out of intensive care, though his condition was still unstable.
Most people who were seriously hurt suffered head injuries and one was bleeding internally, said Lin Chih-min, deputy director of Luodong Boai Hospital, where four people were in intensive care.
Wu told reporters that the maximum speed at the bend is 75 kmph (47 mph), but the train was travelling at almost twice the limit at 140 kph (87 mph) at the time of the accident.
Hundreds of rescuers and military personnel worked through the night, using spotlights to search the wreckage for survivors, as ambulances waited nearby to take the injured to hospital.
A tourist train overturned in the southern mountains in April 2011 after a large tree fell into its path. The speed of the train was not being released due to the pending investigation, but has not been ruled out as a cause. They are created to tilt when going around curves. The seller said then that the trains were part of a $46 billion upgrade of the line along Taiwan's east coast.