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Truck driver among 7 charged in Taiwan train crash

Passengers are rescued from a derailed train in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, on April 2. File Photo courtesy of Hualien Speedy New/EPA-EFE
Passengers are rescued from a derailed train in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, on April 2. File Photo courtesy of Hualien Speedy New/EPA-EFE

April 16 (UPI) -- Authorities in Taiwan on Friday charged seven people -- including the operator of a crane truck -- in a train crash that killed dozens of people earlier this month.

Lee Yi-hsiang, who has been in custody since shortly after the April 2 crash near Hualien city, previously apologized for his role in the incident.

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Lee was the construction site manager at a site on a mountainside alongside the tunnel where the train crash happened. Prosecutors said Lee and his colleague, Hua Wen-hao, were attempting to operate the crane truck, but it became stuck, then tumbled down the mountainside and onto the railway track.

Officials said Lee failed to notify railway officials of the incident and a minute later, the Taroko Express -- en route from Taipei to Taitung -- struck the truck, derailing. Forty-nine people died in the crash.

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"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, told reporters.

"Therefore, we are seeking the highest possible penalties for negligent homicide and hit-and-run for the defendant surnamed Lee."

Prosecutors also charged Hua and Chang Chi Fu-tsai, a safety inspector, with negligence resulting in death; Lee Chin-fu, a construction superintendent, with negligence resulting in death and document forgery; Huang Ping-ho, a director, and Lin Chang-ching, a site supervisor, with contravening the Government Procurement Act; and Huang Wen-li, the owner of the construction company, with accounting fraud, tax evasion, falsifying business documents and providing deceiving information on work operations.

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Chou said the investigation was ongoing and others could face charges.

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