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Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Charges in Taiwan flood deaths
The workers got trapped after a flash flood
The workers' plight was shown on television
Seven people have been charged in Taiwan following a botched rescue effort which led to the death of four workers in floods last month.

The charges range from negligence to manslaughter. The accused, who include a police helicopter pilot and four firefighters, could face up to 10 years in prison.

The deaths caused public outrage and led to the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Yu Shyi-kun.

Thousands of viewers watched the tragedy unfurl on live television, as the military and police argued over who should respond to the emergency.

Vivid pictures showed the stranded workers clinging to each other in the raging Pachang river in the south of the country after being marooned by a flash flood.

They were eventually swept to their deaths after waiting for three hours to be rescued.

Jail

Those indicted include Yang Tao-hung, 50, a police helicopter pilot, who faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of breach of duty.

Two firefighters have also been indicted on similar charges.

"It was their duty to provide disaster relief, but they were unwilling to carry it out and passed it on to other people," the prosecutor told Reuters news agency.

Two other firefighters face five years in prison on charges of negligence causing death.

The workers became stranded after they were asked to repair a dyke.

Their contractor and a supervisor, have also been charged with negligence.

Reprimand

More than a dozen military and police officials were reprimanded following the deaths.

President Chen Shui-bian blamed the delays in rescue efforts on poor communication between the military and police.

Both Mr Chen and Premier Tang Fei have apologised, but the new government's credibility has slipped.

None of the defendants has been taken into custody and no trial date has been set.

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan heads roll after botched rescue
28 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan quake rescue criticised
11 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan picks new cabinet
24 Mar 00 | Taiwan Election
Taiwan's man of the people
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan enters new political era
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