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Chinese Public Angered Over High-Speed Train Crash

Chinese Bullet Train CrashWidespread public anger has been reported in China – directed towards the way the government handled the deadly crash that happened on Saturday between two high-speed bullet trains, including burying at least one of the carriages before discovering the cause of the accident. The accident occurred on the rail line between the cities of Wenzhou and Hangzhou. Three officials have been sacked in relation to the collision.

By Tuesday, controversy swelled south of Shanghai following a video online showing a passenger car being buried at the scene of the collision. Despite a railway spokesperson saying the burial was done to ease rescue operations, many were concerned that the real reason for the crash was buried with the carriage. This incident followed another earlier in the month, when a train was halted on the Beijing to Shanghai line for hours following a lighting strike knocking out its electrical power.

On Monday, the carriage had been dug up, but not until local media started reporting increasing public anger over the government’s behaviour and speculation of a potential coverup. However, authorities say that the crash was triggered by a strike of lightning that halted one of the trains on a bridge, leaving it a sitting duck to be slammed in the back by the second train – which sent 6 carriages flying over to the ground below. The public is upset that full efforts weren’t carried out to rescue survivors, as authorities were pushing for the line to be cleared to restore operations, while there is question as to why the second train didn’t get a warning about the stalled one ahead in the first place.

As the crash’s death toll has reached 39, Beijing has ordered that a 2-month review of safety measures on all railways be conducted. Railway minister Sheng Guangzu reportedly said that the inspection will focus on repairing safety issues and stabilising the safety situation. On Wednesday Chinese premier (prime minister) Wen Jiabao ordered a transparent and sweeping investigation into the collision. News posted on the government’s official website says that Wen told a cabinet meeting that the facts have to be discovered, the parties responsible must be held accountable and the results of the probe will be made public. The people should be provided an honest, responsible statement.

This bullet train crash was the largest blow to the Chinese high-speed rail network, which has been a symbol of the nation’s increasing technological and economic prowess. The quick expansion of the network has been hampered with criticism of impractical schedules and ticket prices, corruption scandals, and safety. Former railway minister Liu Zhijun was made to resign in February after accusations were made that he was embezzling millions from the programme. Additionally, the Beijing to Shanghai line, which has only been open since last month, has been hit with power outages and other issues.

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