Two Chinese bullet trains collided in the eastern province of Zhejiang on July 23. The fatal collision was the first serious accident involving China's bullet trains, which began running in 2007.
China has sacked three senior railway officials in an effort to head off public anger following a high-speed rail crash that left at least 39 people dead and more than 200 injured. The government also halted the operation of 58 trains and called for an emergency nationwide safety check.
Two Chinese bullet trains collided in the eastern province of Zhejiang on July 23. The fatal collision was the first serious accident involving China's bullet trains, which began running in 2007. China is in the process of building the world's largest high-speed railway network in record time, which has received huge state investment.
China's bullet trains came under intense scrutiny this year after Liu Zhijun, the railways minister, was dismissed in February for "serious disciplinary violations." Soon after his removal, the government announced it would cut the top speed of its bullet lines to 300km/h from 350km/h (186mph) because of safety and affordability concerns.
The head of the Shanghai railway bureau, the deputy head, and the bureau's Communist party chief were all fired after Saturday's crash.
The accident occurred when one train lost power after a lightning strike and was hit from behind by another train. Six carriages, each with a capacity of about 100 passengers, were knocked off the tracks, with at least three carriages falling off a bridge.
Footage on the television showed heavy diggers burying much of the wreckage at the foot of a bridge less than 24 hours after the accident. The trains in the crash were first-generation bullet trains, with top speeds of 250km/h, and so not as fast as those on a line that opened last month between Beijing and Shanghai to great fanfare.
Xinhua News Agency acknowledged an outpouring of anger over the accident by quoting some of the many comments posted on websites. "It will be a long and tough process to earn customers' trust again," it cited one person as saying.
(China.org.cn July 29, 2011)