Wen orders swift, open probe into train crash

WENZHOU, Zhejiang – Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday ordered a swift and transparent probe into Saturday’s crash of two high-speed trains and asked that the result be made public.

The crash in Wenzhou caused the deaths of at least 39 people and injured 192 others.

Wen, who made the remarks at a State Council executive meeting, offered his “deep sympathies” to victims and their families.

“Great importance must be attached to finding out the facts and judging the responsibility in accordance with laws and regulations,” a statement released after the meeting said.

The government would take “resolute steps to comprehensively strengthen safety”, it said.

The crash, and a string of public transport accidents, prompted the State Council to order “comprehensive and thorough inspections” on rail and road transport, bridges, coal mines and ongoing construction projects. Industries producing hazardous chemicals will also be inspected.

Bridges, buildings and vehicles found to be in breach of safety standards must be closed or taken off the road until safety requirements are met, it said.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate has joined the investigation of the Wenzhou crash.

On Wednesday, police released the names of eight more victims and their identity card numbers. Earlier, the names and identities of 28 victims were released.

Five of the eight victims came from Fujian and the three others came from Beijing, Zhejiang and Hunan.

The Ministry of Railways on Wednesday promised to pay 500,000 yuan ($77,500) compensation for each victim and at least four families accepted it.

Some victims were cremated on Wednesday, among them Lin Yan, 29, from Fujian.

The cremation took place at Wenzhou funeral house. His family was the first to accept compensation.

Lin rushed to make the ill-fated train on Saturday and just managed to board it before its departure for Fujian.

His grief-stricken widowed mother broke down in the funeral house.

The body of Chen Yijie, 11, was also cremated on Wednesday.

A worker at the funeral house, surnamed Zhou, said that cremations were only carried out with the signed agreement of families, rebutting claims that victims would be burned collectively with or without the agreement of families.

Most families have rejected compensation until the cause of the crash is known.

Wreckage had been moved from the crash site by Tuesday night and the line was fully in service on Wednesday.

Police allowed access to the site on Wednesday afternoon, and local residents were seen excavating small metal parts, probably for recycling.

Both Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television reported that the wreckage had been taken by more than 10 lorries to a depot located near Wenzhou South Station. Wenzhou West Station was originally the destination for the wreckage, as ordered by an investigation team dispatched by the State Council earlier. There was no official explanation for the change.

The accident is expected to dent hopes of exporting high-speed rail technology.

On Tuesday, California High-Speed Rail Authority offered condolences to the families and friends of the victims in a letter of support to the Ministry of Railways.

It also stressed in a media statement that it is committed to the highest levels of safety and “only well-proven equipment will be considered for the system”.

Both the ministry and major train manufacturers said that it was too early to discuss the issue.

Source: China Daily

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