Undocumented migrant worker spotted in truck that caused Taiwan train crash

Illegal Vietnamese worker missing for 5 years found at scene of Hualien train derailment

Hua Hsin-hao (second from left) is escorted by police. 

Hua Hsin-hao (second from left) is escorted by police.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Vietnamese migrant worker who had been missing for five years was arrested Wednesday (April 7) after surveillance camera footage revealed he was sitting in the crane truck that caused the deadly Hualien train derailment last week.

A crane truck driven by contractor Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥) was identified as the obstacle that Taroko Express No. 408 train collided with before derailing as it entered into a tunnel, killing 50 and injuring 211 on April 2.

According to a preliminary investigation, Lee's truck became snagged in bushes that morning as it was going down an incline. Its engine then stalled, and the vehicle slid down until it came to a stop on the tracks 20 meters below, a little over a minute before the train arrived.

While prosecutors were investigating the accident, they discovered surveillance camera footage showing Lee's truck at an intersection fully loaded with used tires as it headed to the construction site. Lee was seen sitting behind the wheel, while an undocumented Vietnamese worker was sitting on the passenger side.

The Vietnamese man was given the Chinese name Hua Hsin-hao (華心好) by his labor broker and goes by the nickname Ah-Hao (阿好), reported UDN.

Undocumented migrant worker spotted in truck that caused Taiwan train crash
Surveillance camera footage of truck Lee Yi-hsiang and Hua Hsin-hao were sitting in. (Hualien Police Department screenshot)

According to the police investigation, the 26-year-old had fled from his employer about five years ago. Police suspect that Lee had hired Hua to work for him illegally.

At around 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, police pinpointed Hua's location and placed him under arrest. At 9:37 p.m. that evening, he was transferred to the Hualien District Prosecutor's Office for further questioning and has been listed as one of the co-defendants in the investigation into the train derailment, reported CNA.

Chou Fang-i (周芳怡), chief prosecutor for the Hualien District Prosecutor's Office, stated on Thursday morning (April 8) that one of the co-defendants in the Hualien train derailment had been arrested the previous day. After questioning Hua for about five hours, prosecutors determined that the man was a flight risk and could try to collude with other defendants and destroy evidence.

Therefore, the Prosector's Office applied to have Hua held incommunicado.

Updated : 2021-04-14 03:31 GMT+08:00