- Title: CHINA: Angry relatives of train crash victims seek answers from authorities
- Date: 26th July 2011
- Summary: NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
- Reuters ID: LVA9PHKMQC9HHKQA3PAN31ZJPYRF
- Location: China, China
- Country: China
- Duration: 00:00:06
- Topics: Disasters,Politics,Transport
- Story Text: Angry relatives demanded answers from the authorities on Monday (July 25) after a collision between two high-speed trains killed at least 38 people in east China and raised new questions about the safety of the fast-growing rail network.
A bullet train collided with another express train on Saturday (July 23) night which lost power following a lightning strike, state media said, in the country's deadliest rail disaster since 2008.
The power failure knocked out an electronic safety system designed to alert trains about stalled locomotives on the line.
There were 1,630 passengers on both trains, which collided on a bridge near the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, some 860 miles south of Beijing Dozens of relatives and friends of the deceased train victims had gathered at the local morgue in Wenzhou to identify the dead bodies or search for their lost kin.
A temporary service centre had been set up inside the main hall of the morgue where staff is available to help.
Relatives wept and consoled each other as those who had identified their loved ones inside the morgue struggled to keep control of their emotions.
Authorities moved quickly to respond to public anger by sacking the head of the Shanghai railway bureau, his deputy and the bureau's Communist Party chief, the Railways Ministry on Sunday (July 24) according to a statement on its website.
But many were still unhappy and angry with what they see as an inadequate investigation by the authorities.
53-year-old Shi Zhengxiang lost his son-in-law during the train crash.
He had travelled from his hometown in Pingyang in northern Shanxi province with his relatives to search for his missing son-in-law who was a Wenzhou native.
After identifying his body on Monday, Shi said he could not hold back his anger against the authorities on how they allowed such a crash to have happened.
"The first train had stopped due to a fault. So how can the other train which was driving through be involved in such an accident? How were they managing this, how were they managing the train traffic? They have to investigate this thoroughly, if not we will go find the railway ministry for answers," he said.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang had visited the disaster scene on Sunday and "pledged that the investigators will find out the cause of the accident and those responsible will be seriously punished according to the law."
Many other victims' families said they were angry with the government's apparent lack of organization and assistance.
54-year-old Jia Xingfu, a village chief from nearby Wenling, said he wanted authorities to help give closure to a family who had lost their son in their crash.
However, he said the morgue could not even help find an undertaker to do make-up on the dead body and to help transport the body back to his village in Wenling.
"Now this is such a small request. All we want is for them to do some make-up on the face (of the deceased train victim) so that the family members can come see him and have some peace. But they (the morgue) are not able to do this. We have told them about this last night but till today they are unable to sort this out. The officials from the morgue are still having a meeting about this. When are they going to sort this out, don't tell me the victim is not even worth a single cent?" Jia said angrily.
Over 210 injured people were still recovering at hospitals across Wenzhou city.
Thirty-five-year-old Chen Aiting broke his pelvis when the carriage he was in near the front of the train flew off the railway bridge and hit the ground.
A leather salesman, who had been returning to Wenzhou form Shandong province where he works, Chen was happy to be alive with his wife and five-year-old daughter.
But he said once recovered, he was expecting an explanation from the authorities for the cause of the accident.
"At the moment my understanding of it is through what other people say, I personally am not able to comment on it, but the government should give us a fair, appropriate explanation," he said.
A two-year-old girl was pulled alive from the wreckage on Sunday, 21 hours after the accident, making her the last survivor of the deadly accident, state television CCTV reported.
The unconscious child was found while rescuers were clearing one of the train carriages just as the cleanup efforts were almost completed.
She was then transferred to a local hospital for treatment and had regained consciousness. Her left leg was seriously injured and it could take some time to recover, CCTV added, quoting one of her doctors as saying.
Rail is the most popular method of long-distance transport in China and trains are usually crowded with as many as 1,000 passengers.
The reliability of China's rail network was called into question recently when the flagship Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line suffered a series of power outages soon after opening to great fanfare a month ago.
China's rail network has also been hit by a series of scandals. Three railway officials have been investigated for corruption this year, according to local media reports.
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