Beijing – Burying parts of the wreckage from Saturday’s deadly high-speed rail accident was a part of the rescue operation and not an attempt to hide evidence, a spokesman for the Ministry of Railways said.
It was inconceivable for government authorities to try to cover up the collision, and it was necessary to bury the damaged carriages to make way for mechanical equipment to proceed with rescue efforts, spokesman Wang Yongping said at a news conference on Sunday night.
Wang was responding to questioning about damaged carriages – which could be important for an investigation into the collision – being torn apart and pushed into large pits at the accident site.
Beijing News on Monday quoted people from the China Railway No 3 Engineering Group as saying that the pits were dug to make room for a giant crane to lift away the rest of the carriages that remain on the overhead rail tracks.
Images showing backhoes shoveling the wreckage into the pits circulated on the Internet, and speculation has mounted over a possible mishandling by the government or a cover-up to bury evidence crucial for the ongoing investigation.
Footage broadcast by China Central Television on Monday showed several damaged carriages still lying on the ground at the site.
The accident, which killed at least 39 people and injured more than 190, occurred in East China’s Zhejiang province when a high-speed train stalled on a bridge – reportedly after being struck by lightning – and was rear-ended by another train.
More than 40, 000 Internet users have reposted a statement by Yi Nengjing, a popular singer and actress from Taiwan, on her Weibo.com account on Sunday, saying that wreckage from the Air France crash in 2009 had been well preserved and treated, including tiny debris, to help figure out the cause of the tragic accident and prevent it from happening again.
Others alluded to the Japanese rescue team’s handling of wreckage after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in March, saying rescuers and volunteers retrieved items including graduate certificates, schoolbags and photo albums for victims’ families and friends to claim belongings of their loved ones.
After the bullet train crash on Saturday, many people have hoped to find the belongings of their relatives or friends onboard the trains.
Anyone wanting to find luggage or belongings can check with the Wenzhou South Railway Station and obtain retrieved personal items upon showing proper identification.