China muzzles its media after train crash kills at least 43
Published 25/07/2011 | 05:00
China clamped down on the reporting of safety concerns yesterday after a crash on its high-speed rail network killed at least 43 people less than a month after the €23.8bn line involved opened.
The authorities also sacked three senior railway officials.
The deaths mark the first major accident on the network and the toll is expected to rise further.
Two foreigners were among those killed but their nationalities have not been disclosed. A further 210 passengers were being treated in hospital. Rescuers pulled a four-year-old alive from the wreckage after 21 hours.
Our pictures above show the scene of the crash, on Saturday night near Wenzhou on the Beijing to Shanghai line. It happened after one of China's first-generation bullet trains was struck by lightning.
The strike knocked out the power and brought the train to a halt. Passengers reported that the lights went out and it stood still for 25 minutes.
It appears that safety signalling also failed, and a second bullet train hit the first from behind, derailing six carriages and throwing two of them right off the 60ft-high elevated tracks. Both were reported to have been full, with around 200 passengers inside.
Passengers said that the impact was like "an earthquake". "It happened just as the train began moving again after it stalled," said a woman named only as Mrs Zhou.
"We heard a huge crash. I clung to my five-year-old girl but she was all blackened and bruised."
The government ordered an emergency overhaul of safety across the network and both Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, and Wen Jiabao, the premier, called for "all-out efforts" to rescue the victims.
Propaganda officials instructed the domestic media not to conduct interviews about what caused the crash or link it to the wider debate about the safety of the expensive high-speed railway network.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)