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Pattaya Daily News

28 September 2011 :: 09:09:45 am 58640

China metro crash injures more than 260

SHANGHAI, September 27, 2011- Two metro trains collided in Shanghai on Tuesday, injuring more than 260 people, the city government said, just months after a deadly high-speed rail crash that shocked China.
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The Shanghai Metro Company blamed the accident on a signal failure — the same cause as a July high-speed train crash that killed at least 40 people and shook public confidence in China’s vast rail network, prompting outrage.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths from Tuesday’s accident, but pictures posted on Chinese websites showed bloodied passengers, some lying on the floor apparently unconscious and others with head injuries.

The metro company said 500 passengers had been evacuated from the trains and the injured taken to hospital.

Around 50 went to the nearby Ruijin hospital, where a doctor said most of the victims were only slightly hurt.

“This accident shouldn’t have happened,” Wen Pei, a passenger in the hospital’s emergency room told AFP, his arm in a sling from a shoulder injury.

“The speed seemed fast. I felt a sudden stop, which made me lose my balance. I hit my head on the pole and it bled,” said another victim, without giving his name.

The Shanghai government said it was investigating the accident, which appeared to have been caused by equipment failure.

“So far, more than 260 people have been sent to hospital, but no one is dead,” a government spokeswoman who did not give her name told AFP. “We have set up a team to investigate.”

China’s hugely popular microblogs buzzed with criticism of the authorities in the hours following Tuesday’s crash, with many accusing the government of failing to ensure passenger safety.

“This is the consequence of rapid development. In the end we have to seriously consider if we want GDP or a happy life,” one blogger posted under the name Shaolei123.

“After this I won’t dare take a subway,” posted another.

The accident comes as China struggles to rebuild public trust in its vast rail system after a high-speed train crash near the city of Wenzhou, south of Shanghai, in July, when at least 40 people died.

Developing the world’s largest high-speed rail network was a key political goal for Beijing, but the Wenzhou accident forced it to rethink.

The crash was the worst ever to hit China’s high-speed train system and raised questions about whether safety had been overlooked in the rush to develop the network.

The results of an investigation into that accident have yet to be released, but officials have blamed it on a failure of the Chinese-built signalling system in use on the line.

China is also pouring money into its urban underground networks, with nearly two dozen major cities given the green light in late 2009 to build 89 metro lines by 2016 — at an estimated cost of 880 billion yuan ($134 billion).

Shanghai, China’s commercial capital, opened its first metro line in 1995 and currently has 11 lines covering more than 420 kilometres and carrying nearly five million passengers a day, according to figures from the operator.

A series of near misses have added to the mistrust in the metro system — including one in July on the same line where Tuesday’s accident occurred, in which a train took a wrong turn during peak hours due to a signal failure. Then, no one was hurt.

In the wake of the Wenzhou crash authorities decided to limit speeds on the high-speed network to 300 kph, following allegations of widespread, high-level corruption in the rail sector, with fears that safety had been compromised.

Railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked in February over graft charges, after he allegedly took more than 800 million yuan ($125 million) in kickbacks over several years on contracts linked to the high-speed network.

China’s state auditor in March said construction companies and individuals last year siphoned off 187 million yuan in funds meant for a high-profile Beijing-Shanghai link.

Reporter : AFP   Photo : AFP   Category : World News

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