Overloading a crane and failure to take heed of high winds were the main factors that caused the boom of a crane to fall and kill two Chinese tourists in Taipei City at about 1:30pm on Friday, a preliminary examination by the Taipei City Labor Department found yesterday.
The boom that fell from the 37th floor of the construction site in Xinyi District (信義) on Friday smashed the back of a tour bus carrying 25 tourists from Guangdong Province, China, leaving two passengers dead and four injured.
The department inspected the construction site yesterday morning and said the crane, which had a load capacity of 3.2 tonnes, was used to lift and move a 4-tonne boom.
“Lifting a mid-sized boom with a small-sized crane is a normal construction process, but the construction company ignored the load capacity of the crane. This is a case of occupational negligence,” Labor Standards Inspection Office Director Chang Chi-yu (張基煜) said after visiting the construction site on Songgao Road.
Strong wind was also a factor behind the accident and the construction company should be blamed for failing to block off the alley while operating the crane, he said.
The construction company violated the Labor Safety and Health Law (勞工安全衛生法), and will be given a NT$210,000 fine, he said.
President International Development Corp is the main contractor of the ongoing municipal build-operate-transfer project. The company and its subcontractors, Ta-Chen Construction Engineering Corp and Global Leader Neoweb, which is the provider and operator of the crane, are constructing a multifunctional building that will include a bus transit center, a shopping square and a hotel.
Work is scheduled to be completed next year.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) visited the injured tourists yesterday morning and reiterated the city government's determination to demand that the companies take full responsibility for the accident.
“The city government has already demanded that all construction at the site be halted indefinitely and we will determine the contractors' responsibility according to the toughest standards,” Hau said.
Hau said the injured tourists sent to Taipei City Hospital's Zhongxiao branch, 53-year-old Wang Peiling (王佩玲) and 29-year-old Ye Zhitang (葉志棠), were in stable condition and should be out of hospital in three days.
Another injured tourist, 63-year-old Zhang Shiguang (張世洸), remained in critical condition at Taipei Medical University Hospital.
Tzao Neil-wen (曹乃文), chief of the cardiac surgery department at the hospital, said Zhang, 63, had suffered severe cranial damage, including leakage of brain fluid.
Zhang also sustained multiple bone fractures all over his body and is suffering from neurogenic and hemorrhagic shock, Tzao said. Zhang is unconscious, he said.
Hau promised to provide the best medical care and assistance possible to the injured tourists.
Meanwhile, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office and police released six crane operators early yesterday on bail of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 each after eight hours of questioning over the accident.
Two representatives of two construction companies that are involved in the construction were also questioned, but later freed without bail.
Chief Prosecutor Lai Cheng-sheng (賴正聲) said there would be no further probe into criminal liability until the municipal authorities completed their investigation.
The Travel Agent Association of Taiwan said the families of the two people killed in the accident would arrive last night.
A Tourism Bureau official surnamed Chou (周) said the family members would be taken care of — including airline tickets, airport pickup and hotel stays.
In terms of compensation for tourist death or injury and expenses incurred from travel and hotel stays by their families, Chou said the tourists and their families had yet to decide which party to ask — the travel agency, the construction company or the tour bus company.
“If they decide to demand money from the travel agency, which will most likely be the case, the Tourism Bureau will assist them in the compensation claims,” he said. “However, it is almost without a doubt that the construction company will need to fund these compensation monies.”
The general manager of the Chinese travel agency that organized the ill-fated tour to Taiwan arrived from Guangdong yesterday to help the surviving members of the tour group deal with the aftermath of the fatal accident.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, 15 members of the tour group left Taiwan as scheduled.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) was at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to see them off and to offer his condolences.
In related news, eight tour groups coming from China — with a total of 282 tourists — were stranded at the airport for hours on Friday because their travel agency, Sanhua Travel Co, failed to secure tour buses for the groups as planned.
“Sanhua asked us for help yesterday [Friday] morning, saying that it did not have buses for a group of its tourists,” Chou said. “When more groups of Sanhua's tourists arrived on Friday afternoon and they still had no tour buses, we realized we had a big problem at hand.”
Chou said that though the bureau successfully helped Sanhua secure tour buses for its first tour group, because seven more groups arrived in the afternoon, the bureau had to summon the Travel Quality Assurance Association (TQAA) to help dispatch more buses.
Because Sanhua had seriously jeopardized the interests of the tourists, the Tourism Bureau suspended Sanhua's right to receive Chinese tourists for the next three months based on Article 25, clause 2, of the The Rules Governing Permits for People from Mainland China Conducting Tourists' Activities in Taiwan (大陸地區人民來臺從事觀光活動?鴘k), Chou said.
If Sanhua cannot cover the extra cost incurred by hiring the tour buses at the last-minute, the Tourism Bureau will pay for the buses with the NT$1 million deposit money Sanhua submitted to the bureau when the travel agency received approval to host the tour groups, he said.
TQAA secretary-general Chen Yi-chuan (陳怡全) said yesterday that the matter had been settled.
“All the tourists are on their trips as scheduled,” Chen said.
Responding to local media reports that some of the buses the TQAA helped dispatch were originally booked by other parties — including Taipei City's Jing-xing Junior High School (景興), which had booked buses for a field trip for 670 students — but were diverted at the last minute to the Chinese tourists, Chen said: “I have not heard this, I don't know where the buses came from, but it doesn't matter. The situation now is that [Sanhua] realized that it had made a mistake, and used all its means to secure buses for the tourists. And now the tourists are on their ways as scheduled.”
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