Tue, July 26, 2011
China > Mainland > Bullet train collision in Zhejiang

Repercussions of train crash

2011-07-26 13:31:54 GMT2011-07-26 21:31:54(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Engineering machines work at the accident site of the deadly high-speed train crash near Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 26, 2011. The investigative group of the accident decided to carry debris of damaged train to Wenzhou West Railway Station for further investigation. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

An excavator works to dismantle the damaged train, which was involved in the train crash accident on July 23, at the accident site near Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 25, 2011. Dismantlement operation of the damaged train started Monday night. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)

Relatives of the victims in a high-speed train crash cry after seeing the bodies in the funeral home in Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 26, 2011. All of the 39 bodies of the train crash victims have been claimed by their relatives, according to the city government Tuesday.(Xinhua/Lu Chunyu)

A truck carries debris of damaged train leaves the accident site of the deadly high-speed train crash near Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 26, 2011. The investigative group of the accident decided to carry debris of damaged train to Wenzhou West Railway Station for further investigation. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The high-speed train collision in China on Saturday has shocked the entire world, and the way the country's railway administrators have handled the aftermath has done nothing to reassure the public of its professionalism.

Saturday's crash, in which four train carriages fell off a viaduct and two derailed in the eastern province of Zhejiang, has left at least 39 dead and 210 others injured.

Although having apologized to passengers and re-declared confidence in the country's high-speed train technologies, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) is still facing widespread criticism of the way it handled the accident. The public are also lashing out at the ministry as they grow increasing concerned about transportation safety.

A lightning strike has been blamed for the accident. It caused the train which was hit by another from behind, to lose power and shut down the monitoring system, said the ministry -- the same explanation that it offered after its newly-opened Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway experienced similar power-cuts in the past month.

The ministry has previously declared that China's high-speed railways were designed to be "sensitive" to safety risks, but on Saturday the so-called highly protective monitoring system was not working.

"It was anything but a natural disaster...I believe the problem lies in the overall management and scheduling," said Li Yixin, a passenger that survived the fatal crash.

Internet chatrooms and microblogging sites were filled with angry outbursts after an online video showed that a carriage of one of trains was buried instead of being taken away for further investigations, triggering concerns that the true reason for the crash might be buried along with it.

"The headstock was buried under the viaduct to make it easier for the rescue," said Wang Yongping, spokesman with the MOR when commenting on the issue, citing his colleague.

"I don't know whether you are convinced, but I am," he told reporters in a press conference.

Concerns were also raised as a toddler was found alive after railway authorities announced that there was no vital signs at the accident site and began to tear apart train carriages.

"I was wondering if there is still other lives waiting to be rescued in the ruins...This is a cruel miracle after all," said Lin Huiqi, a user of the popular Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo.

The death toll from the crash climbed to 39 by late Monday.

The ministry, as it monopolizes the country's rail transport, has long been dubbed "tie lao da," or "big rail brother" for its indifference to passengers' need, despite a raft of reform measures implemented to promote market-oriented development over the past decades.

The ministry promised to refund passengers whose rail service was canceled after the collision. However, many have found it outrageous that they were told to go back to the exact booth they purchased the ticket, which may be hundreds or thousands of kilometers away.

A resident surnamed Zhang in the northern municipality of Tianjin told Xinhua that it was ridiculous that he had to buy a new ticket for the same bullet train after losing one, since the system had recorded his information.

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