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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: August 1, 2011 NO. 31 AUGUST 4, 2011
A Deadly Crash
Train accident raises concerns about the safety of China's high-speed trains

A LETHAL TRIP: A worker takes photos at the scene of the train crash near Wenzhou City in east China's Zhejiang Province on July 24 (JU HUANZONG)

Design flaws in railway signal equipment have been blamed for the July 23 train collision near Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Having been struck by lightning, the signal system at Wenzhou South Railway Station failed to turn the green light to red, which caused the rear-end collision, said An Lusheng, Director of the Shanghai Railways Bureau, at an investigation meeting on July 28.

The signal equipment was designed by a Beijing-based research and design institute and was put into use in September 2009, An said.

The accident occurred on a viaduct in the vicinity of Wenzhou when high-speed train D301 from Beijing to Fuzhou, in southeastern Fujian Province, rear-ended bullet train D3115, running from Hangzhou in Zhejiang to Fuzhou, which had lost power and stalled after being struck by lightning.

The first four coaches of the D301 fell off the viaduct on to the ground below, while the last two coaches of the D3115 derailed without falling off the bridge.

Sources with the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said 1,072 people were on the D3115 and 558 on D301 when the accident took place.

Local authorities said on July 26 the accident had left at least 39 people dead and 192 others injured.

Local authorities have released the names of 39 people confirmed dead in the July 23 train collision near Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province. Among them are Liguori Assunta, an Italian national, and Cao Erxing and Chen Zengrong, two Chinese Americans.

When visiting the site of the crash on July 28, Premier Wen Jiabao said the State Council had set up an independent investigation group to look into the causes of the accident.

The premier promised the investigation will be "open, transparent" and "under public supervision" to ensure its result can stand the test of history.

"We will severely punish those who are responsible for the accident, as well as those who hold responsibilities of leadership, in accordance with the law," Wen said.

Sparing no effort

Shortly after the accident, top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen, ordered an all-out effort to rescue passengers.

The Zhejiang Provincial Department of Health rushed four medical teams from the province's leading hospitals to the site. On July 26, 126 of the injured were still being treated in 11 hospitals in Wenzhou, and 12 patients were in critical condition, said local officials.

RACE AGAINST TIME: Rescuers rush to send Xiang Weiyi, a two-year-old survivor who was pulled from the wreckage 21 hours after the train collision on July 23, to hospital (CHEN XIANG)

Xiang Weiyi, a 2-year-old girl who was pulled alive from the wreckage 21 hours after the collision, showed good vital signs after her first surgery, but it is now known she lost her parents in the disaster.

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