Taiwan Costs Man With Inflicting Deadliest Rail Accident in Many years

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese prosecutors on Friday formally charged the operator of a crane truck that slid down an embankment into the trail of an oncoming specific prepare, ensuing within the island’s deadliest rail catastrophe in many years.

The operator of the truck, Lee Yi-hsiang, has been in detention in Hualien, a metropolis in japanese Taiwan, since shortly after the April 2 crash. He had beforehand apologized and brought accountability for inflicting the collision, which pressured the eight-car Taroko Specific to fly off the rails and slam into the partitions of a tunnel, killing 49 folks and injuring greater than 200 others.

“This case has already brought about the harmless deaths of 49 victims, and the enduring ache of their households,” Chou Fang-yi, the Hualien District prosecutor, advised reporters at a briefing on Friday.

It additionally brought about hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in financial losses and broken Taiwan’s repute as a vacation spot for tourism, she stated.

“Due to this fact, we’re in search of the best potential penalties for negligent murder and hit-and-run for the defendant surnamed Lee,” Ms. Chou added.

Native prosecutors in Hualien stated investigators interviewed greater than 100 folks and reviewed digital camera footage from the prepare and the crane truck over the course of two weeks.

They stated that on the morning of April 2, Mr. Lee and a colleague, surnamed Hua, had been engaged on a building web site on a steep mountainside, simply above the tunnel the place the prepare later derailed.

The location was related to a building mission commissioned by Taiwan’s transportation ministry to enhance the protection of the slope.

Prosecutors stated there shouldn’t have been any staff on the location that day, because it was the beginning of a protracted vacation weekend. However Mr. Lee, the crane truck operator, was additionally the development web site supervisor, and an official stated in an interview that Mr. Lee had been dashing to complete the mission to keep away from penalties for lacking a deadline.

Prosecutors stated that Mr. Lee was attempting to maneuver the crane truck round a hairpin flip when it acquired caught within the bushes on the sting of the slope. He acquired out and tried to dislodge the truck, nevertheless it tumbled down the embankment onto the railway monitor.

Neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Hua tried to alert authorities to the state of affairs, the prosecutors stated.

Simply over one minute later, the Taroko Specific, which was full of 498 folks, together with many households who had been on their strategy to scenic japanese Taiwan for the Tomb Sweeping vacation weekend, emerged from a close-by tunnel and collided with the automobile. The prepare had been touring at about 80 miles an hour, investigators have stated.

The prosecutors stated they had been bringing a number of prices in opposition to Mr. Lee, together with negligent murder, leaving the crash scene and falsifying his credentials to use for the mission.

If convicted on all counts, Mr. Lee might resist twelve years in jail, Ms. Chou stated in an interview.

Mr. Hua and two different mission supervisors who weren’t on the crash web site that day have additionally been charged with negligent murder, a criminal offense which carries a most penalty of 5 years in jail. The police division had beforehand stated that Mr. Hua was a migrant employee from Vietnam.

The revelation that the crane truck had been related to a government-commissioned mission has triggered an more and more heated public dialogue in latest days concerning the Taiwan Railways Administration, which runs the Taroko Specific and was additionally the company behind the slope security scheme.

Though main prepare crashes are comparatively uncommon in Taiwan, the derailment in Hualien earlier this month was the second severe incident in three years. Within the final main prepare accident, in 2018, 18 folks had been killed and 170 others injured after a prepare derailed in northeastern Taiwan’s Yilan County.

Simply days after the crash in Hualien this month, President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to overtake the railway company, which has lengthy been dogged by complaints about its bureaucratic tradition and weak security consciousness.

“In relation to the TRA, my view is way the identical,” Ms. Tsai stated. “Individuals all over the place in Taiwan need to have a protected path residence. Reforming the company is our unshirkable accountability.”

The prepare crash in Hualien has been one of many worst disasters that Ms. Tsai has confronted since she took workplace in 2016. Her transportation minister, Lin Chia-lung, has already provided to resign and can depart workplace subsequent week.

An official with the Taiwan Transportation Security Board, a authorities company that’s chargeable for investigating main transportation accidents, stated just lately that the company’s investigation into the crash was persevering with. It anticipated to launch the outcomes subsequent 12 months.

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