A high-speed train has derailed in Zhejiang, sending two coaches off a bridge and killing at least 33 people and injuring almost 200, according to a report from Xinhua:
The accident occurred after high-speed train D3115 was allegedly hit by lightning and lost drive, and then rear-ended by another bullet train D301.
The former train was running from the provincial capital Hangzhou to the southeastern city of Fuzhou, and the latter one traveled from Beijing to Fuzhou.
The trains were administrated by two different regional railway bureaus — train D3115 by the Shanghai Railway Bureau while train D301 by the Nanchang Railway Bureau.
In the opposite direction, high-speed train D3212 from southeastern city of Xiamen to Hangzhou was also stopped by lightning at about 8 p.m. Saturday. No passenger was injured, said Liu Jiwei who was on board.
See also a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Footage from Chinese television:
The government has also apparently begun to move to distance itself from the accident. This report, for example, states that the accident was not a result of the train’s high speed (China’s claims to have built a faster high speed train than Japan have attracted critics who have suggested that safety was sacrificed to attain this speed advantage). It also says that the cars involved were a “relatively mature design, and were not of Chinese original design.” Further reports have officials pointing out that this train was actually a joint venture with Japan.
Of course, suggestions that China’s high speed trains had been copied from other countries were ludicrous, offensive, and slanderous a few days ago. Now, however, it seems that same criticism may be being accepted in order to absolve China from as much of the blame as possible.