Anger Over Crash Report

Report comes late and does little to assuage massive popular anger over the handling of the disaster.

Chinese firefighters work to rescue survivors after a high-speed train crash in eastern Zhejiang province, July 23, 2011.

Chinese netizens hit out on Thursday at an official report into the causes of July's bullet-train crash, saying the government was still evading responsibility and failing to give a full picture of how the disaster happened.

An investigation commissioned by China's cabinet, the State Council, blamed  "design flaws, sloppy management and the mishandling of a lightning strike that crippled equipment," for the July 23 crash in which one high-speed train        rear-ended a train that had lost power and was stationary on the track in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

The State Council said on Wednesday that a total of 54 people were being held accountable for the crash, in which the government says 40 people died, and would face "Party and administrative penalties," official media reported.

But the report, which was issued late, did little to assuage massive popular anger online over the handling of the crash, rescue operation and investigation, which many see as an official cover-up on a massive scale.

"Where is the truth?" wrote user @pp2030 on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service. "I feel sorry for those innocent lives all over again."

User @Tianmoyangwenjing agreed, commenting on a widely circulated microblog post: "I don't believe this." User @Ren-S added: "They are glossing over the incident and muzzling the media."

Many netizens called for a full list of the dead and injured, which was given only as a table showing the number of deaths and injuries in the two trains involved in the crash. Others expressed doubts over the official death toll of 40.

"Can we have an account of the dead and injured that doesn't make suspicious?" wrote user @chaoxiayiren, while user @HELLOhaitunxinlanggerenrenzheng said: "They don't dare to release the full list of names."

"Chinese people have too much endurance. They are all...too busy making money," commented user @Lambkina on the same post. "What reason do we have left to love a government and a country like this?"

"A naive government that thinks its people are dumb f**ks," added @zhangHL-youlianlun.


In one exchange, user @weixianshandeyanyanLP wrote: "Who believes this?", later adding: "I am a member of the Communist Party Youth League."

Many commenters used in apparent satire the phrase "I don't care if you believe it or not. I believe it," which gained online currency after it was used as a  response by an official trying to explain why the authorities buried part of the train wreck at the scene of the crash.

The report blamed the crash on "serious design flaws" in control equipment used at Wenzhou South Railway Station, which was designed by the Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signals and Communication, a subsidiary of the China Railway Signal and Communication Corp.

The design defects occurred because of the institute's "sloppy management," citing violation of bidding rules and technical examination procedures, which allowed the flawed equipment to be used at the railway station and on other rail lines.

It said workers at the Shanghai Railway Bureau "did not properly handle rescue efforts, did not issue information in a timely manner and did not correctly address public concerns."

"Judicial organs are currently conducting an independent investigation in accordance with the law into whether or not these relevant responsible officials committed crimes," it said.

Former railway minister Liu Zhijun and the ministry's former deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang were deemed to "have the main leadership responsibility for the accident."

Netizens hit out at the conclusion as an evasion of responsibility, as both Liu  and Zhang had already been removed from their posts for severe discipline violations before the accident happened.

"How gracious to give the leader a 'recorded demerit.' He must be relieved after thinking he may actually be punished for real," wrote one commenter on an article about the report on the official English-language China Daily website.

The commenter went on: "And how can the article say these people hadn't fulfilled their duty? Any good Confucian knows their duty is to their families....considering reports that say at least 20 percent of high-speed railway funding disappeared into the pockets of the officials involved with the project I would say these people have fulfilled their duty to their families very well."

Another commenter wrote: "An accident of this magnitude should have the report out on schedule or even earlier. Could a late report like this cause suspicions of behind the scene negotiations?"

The 36,000-word report appeared on the website of the State Administration of Work Safety late on Wednesday. It said both trains involved the accident were manufactured by CSR Corp, had been in proper working condition. It cleared both drivers, one of whom was killed instantly, of any wrongdoing.

Reported by Luisetta Mudie.


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Jan 05, 2012 04:56 AM

What a whitewash this report on the train accident was.