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 categorical practice, ensuing in the island’s deadliest rail disaster in decades.

The operator of the truck, Lee Yi-hsiang, has been in detention in Hualien, a metropolis in jap Taiwan, since shortly after the April 2 crash. He had previously apologized and taken responsibility for inflicting the collision, which pressured the eight-car Taroko Express 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 caused the innocent deaths of 49 victims, and the enduring pain of their families,” Chou Fang-yi, the Hualien District prosecutor, advised reporters at a briefing on Friday.

It additionally prompted hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in financial losses and broken Taiwan’s fame as a vacation spot for tourism, she mentioned.

“Therefore, we are seeking the highest possible penalties for negligent homicide and hit-and-run for the defendant surnamed Lee,” Ms. Chou added.

Local prosecutors in Hualien mentioned investigators interviewed greater than 100 folks and reviewed digicam footage from the practice and the crane truck over the course of two weeks.

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

The web site was related to a development undertaking commissioned by Taiwan’s transportation ministry to enhance the protection of the slope.

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

Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Lee was attempting to maneuver the crane truck round a hairpin flip when it obtained caught in the bushes on the sting of the slope. He obtained out and tried to dislodge the truck, but it surely tumbled down the embankment onto the railway observe.

Neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Hua tried to alert authorities to the scenario, the prosecutors mentioned.

Just over one minute later, the Taroko Express, which was full of 498 folks, together with many families who were on their way to scenic eastern Taiwan for the Tomb Sweeping vacation weekend, emerged from a close-by tunnel and collided with the car. The practice had been touring at about 80 miles an hour, investigators have mentioned.

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

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

Mr. Hua and two different undertaking 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 mentioned that Mr. Hua was a migrant employee from Vietnam.

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

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

Just 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.

“When it comes to the TRA, my view is much the same,” Ms. Tsai mentioned. “People everywhere in Taiwan deserve to have a safe path home. Reforming the agency is our unshirkable responsibility.”

The practice 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 supplied to resign and can go away workplace subsequent week.

An official with the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board, a authorities company that’s accountable for investigating main transportation accidents, mentioned 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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