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Prosecutors in Taiwan have issued an arrest warrant for a construction site boss whose truck is suspected of causing a train crash that killed at least 51 people.

An express train collided with a truck that had slipped down an embankment next to the track from a construction site, causing Taiwan’s worst rail accident in seven decades.

The construction site manager is accused of failing to properly activate the brake.

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

The head of the Hualien prosecutor’s office, Yu Hsiu-duan, told reporters late Friday that an arrest warrant had been released and that the court system was now dealing with it.

“To preserve relevant evidence, we have several groups of prosecutors at the scene and are searching the necessary places,” she said.

Workers started pushing the train’s back end, which was relatively undamaged after coming to a stop outside the tunnel, down the track and away from the accident site on Saturday.

The train’s more seriously damaged parts are now mangled inside the tunnel.

President Tsai Ing-wen is scheduled to meet survivors in Hualien on Saturday, according to her office.

In a display of appreciation, the government has requested that flags be flown at half-staff for three days.

The train was crowded with visitors and people returning home when the crash occurred at the start of a long holiday weekend.

In Taiwan, the most recent big train derailment occurred in 2018, killing 18 people on the same eastern line.

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That was the island’s worst train accident since 1991, when two trains collided in Miaoli, killing 30 people and injuring 112 others.

Other major collisions with scores of fatalities occurred in 1981, 1978, and 1961.

The most deadly rail accident in Taiwan’s history occurred in 1948, when a train caught fire, killing 64 people.


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