China Punishes 54 Officials Over Rail Crash

Following the crash of the high-speed train in Wenzhou in July, netizens and others roundly condemned authorities for their response and actions on the wake of the disaster. Now, the State Council has released a report looking into the causes of the accident and has singled out 54 people for punishment. From Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

Mismanagement and design flaws were the main causes for the crash that killed 40 people near the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, according to the report issued yesterday by the State Council, China’s cabinet. The government punished 54 officials and ordered the railway ministry to improve management of the high-speed rail network, the report said.

Suspicions of corruption sparked by the February removal of Railway Minister Liu Zhijun and the discovery of a two-year-old alive as crews cleared wreckage fueled public outrage over the accident. The outcries prompted nationwide safety checks, project delays and a call on the front page of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper for economic development that isn’t “stained with blood.”

China Daily has more on the reported causes of the crash:

There were “serious design flaws” in the control equipment used at Wenzhou South Railway Station, the report released on Wednesday said.

The equipment 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.

Investigators believe that the design defects occurred because of the institute’s sloppy management and the corporation’s failure to fulfill its duty.

And from the NPR blog:

The rail ministry and the Shanghai Railway Bureau are blamed for failing to “act properly” after the crash. The report adds this nugget: “(the agencies) were unable to disclose relevant information on issues of social concern, leaving a negative social influence.”

That could include rail ministry workers, who spent a few hours after the accident searching for victims, according to the New York Times (paywall), then buried one train carriage before crash investigators arrived on the scene in Wenzhou. A toddler survived for nearly a day in the wreckage, hours after the search had been called off.

In the wake of the crash, singer Chuanzi wrote a song criticizing the Ministry of Railways response and honoring the victims. Read more about the crash via CDT.


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