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The Taiwanese public prosecutor’s office is filing an arrest warrant for a suspect in a fatal train wreck

© Reuters. Rescuers work on the site one day after a fatal train derailment in a tunnel north of Hualien, Taiwan


By Ann Wang

HUALIEN, Taiwan (Reuters) – Taiwan prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant for a site manager whose truck is believed to have caused a train accident that killed at least 50 people. Authorities warned Saturday that more bodies could be found in the rubble.

Friday’s crash, Taiwan’s worst railroad accident in seven decades, came after an express train hit a truck that had slipped off a bench next to the track from a construction site. The site manager is suspected of not having properly applied the brake.

The train was carrying nearly 500 people on its way from Taiwan’s capital Taipei to Taitung on the east coast when it derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien.

Justice Department general director Lin Jinn-tsun told reporters on Saturday that the prosecution had asked the court to arrest the manager for negligence and forged documents.

“The prosecution will certainly increase the investigation and understanding of the crimes or other suspects involved in the case,” Lin said.

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

Yu Hsiu-duan, head of the Hualien Procuratorate, said the prosecutors were there to gather evidence.

On Saturday, workers began moving the rear of the train, which was relatively undamaged after coming to a standstill outside the tunnel, down the track and away from the scene of the accident.

The more damaged sections of the train remained maimed in the tunnel, where fire officer Wu Liang-yun said there were likely more bodies.

“We are still doing rescue work,” he said.

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

President Tsai Ing-wen visited Hualien hospitals to speak to family members and survivors, and thanked ordinary people and non-governmental groups who came forward to help.

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

The government has stated that flags should be hoisted at half mast for three days to mourn.

The accident occurred at the beginning of a long holiday weekend. The train was packed with tourists and residents heading home for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day when people were cleaning up their ancestors’ graves.

Taiwan has no domestic travel restrictions as the island has had the COVID-19 pandemic well under control and only a handful of hospitalized cases are active.

Prior to the Hualien accident, the worst train crash in Taiwan occurred in 1948, when an estimated 64 people died when a train caught fire.

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