Saturday, 03 April 2021 05:07

Taiwan: Prosecutors seek arrest warrant over train crash

Rescue workers assist after a train derailed in north of Hualien, Taiwan, which was carrying almost 500 passengers. Photograph: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA

Taiwan officials have sought an arrest warrant for a construction site manager whose vehicle is alleged to have caused a train derailment that killed at least 50 people.

The manager of the construction site is suspected of having failed to engage the brake properly.

A Taiwan express train carrying almost 500 passengers derailed in a tunnel on Friday after hitting a truck that had slid down a bank on to the track, it was the island’s worst rail disaster in seven decades.

The train was on its way from Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to Taitung on the east coast, when it derailed in a tunnel just north of Hualien.

Authorities warned on Saturday that more bodies could be found in the wreckage.

Rescue workers remove part of a derailed train in Taiwan. Photograph: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo

Ministry of justice department of prosecutorial affairs director-general Lin Jinn-tsun told reporters on Saturday that prosecutors had applied to the court to arrest the manager on charges of causing death by negligence and forged documents.

“Prosecutors will certainly step up investigation and understanding of the crimes or of other suspects involved in the case,” Mr Lin said.

He told Reuters he expected the court to approve the arrest on Saturday.

Yu Hsiu-duan, head of the Hualien prosecutors office, said prosecutors were at the scene collecting evidence.

Workers on Saturday began moving the back part of the train, which was relatively undamaged having come to a stop outside the tunnel, down the track and away from the site of a accident.

The more heavily damaged sections of the train remained mangled inside the tunnel, where fire department official Wu Liang-yun said there were likely more bodies.

“We’re still carrying out rescue work,” he said.

Forty people remain in hospital, among the 178 reported injured.

President Tsai Ing-wen visited hospitals in Hualien to speak to family members and survivors, expressing thanks to ordinary people and non-governmental groups who had stepped forward to help.

“This shows the good side of Taiwanese society,” she said at a military hospital.

The government has declared flags should be flown at half mast for three days in a show of mourning. – Reuters