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Rail chaos demolition workers post bail in south Taiwan

Four released after questioning following unauthorized demolition that caused major disruption of railway service

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Management and workers involved in Southeast Cement Plant demolition project.

Management and workers involved in Southeast Cement Plant demolition project. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following the unauthorized demolition that caused a cement factory tower to knock down a transmission tower and disrupt railway service, four people involved in the demolition project have been questioned and released on bail by prosecutors.

CNA reported that the safety manager of the Southeast Cement Plant, surnamed Tseng (曾); the Chiung Te Construction safety manager at the site, surnamed Wang (王); a site manager surnamed Lin (林); the owner, surnamed Lee (李); a manager surnamed Weng (翁); crane operator surnamed Tseng (曾); and a subcontractor surnamed Yeh (葉) were summoned for questioning by the Ciaotou District Prosecutors Office Saturday morning (April 2).

Later that evening, prosecutors said in a press release that Lee, Lin, Weng, and Yeh may have ignored the agreed-upon plan to demolish the tower in three phases starting from the top. The four allegedly instructed workers on the site to use a crane and wrecking ball to bring down the structure in one go, without assessing the situation or taking appropriate safety precautions.

The tower ended up falling in an unexpected direction, hitting power cables, which brought down a transmission tower. As a result, train services on both the Taiwan High Speed Rail and Taiwan Railway Administration systems were interrupted, affecting over 120,000 passengers, according to CNA.

After interrogating the group overnight, prosecutors believe that Lee, Lin, Weng, and Yeh likely “endangered public safety by violating an established rule of construction in erecting or demolishing a structure.” The crime is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to NT$90,000 (US$3,140).

Lee and Weng were released on NT$1 million bail, Lin NT$300,000, and Yeh NT$600,000.

Rail chaos demolition workers post bail in south Taiwan
Collapsing tower brought down power cables and a transmission tower. (CNA photo)

Rail chaos demolition workers post bail in south Taiwan
Over 120,000 railway passengers were affected by accident. (CNA photo)

Rail chaos demolition workers post bail in south Taiwan
Taiwan Power Company technicians work to remove cables following accident. (Taiwan Power Company photo)