China train 'was over speed limit'

Investigators say train was 50kph over limit before jumping tracks and killing 70.

    Two railway officials were immediately sacked after the collision [AFP]


    One of the trains involved in Monday's collision in China that killed at least 70 people and injured hundreds of others was travelling at more than 50kph over the speed limit, investigators have said.


    The authorities blamed human error for the accident in which the speeding passenger train jumped its tracks and collided into another train in Zibo city in Shandong province early on Monday.


    The crash occurred before dawn about
    40km from the city of Zibo

    The Chinese government sacked two railway officials over the deadliest accident to hit China's railways in more than a decade, state news agency Xinhua said.


    Investigators said the Beijing to Qingdao train that first jumped its tracks was travelling at 131kph, far exceeding the track speed limit of 80kph, according to Xinhua.


    Xinhua said the director of the railway bureau in Jinan, the provincial capital and nearest big city, and the bureau's communist party secretary, were sacked after the crash.


    They face an investigation by China's ministry of railways.

    Officials reopened the rail line in eastern China on Tuesday.


    Seventy of the 416 people injured in the crash were in critical condition in hospital, according to Xinhua.


    The second train, on its way from Yantai in Shandong to Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu province, was knocked off its tracks although it stayed upright.


    News photos showed several of its carriages sitting across the train tracks just outside Zibo. 


    Good safety record


    More than 400 people were
    injured in the crash [AFP]

    has one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world, carrying about one billion passengers a year, but has a relatively good safety record.


    In one of the worst rail accidents in recent times, 126 people were killed and more than 200 injured when two trains collided in central China's Hunan province in 1997.


    In January of this year a high-speed train ploughed into a group of rail workers conducting track repairs in eastern China, killing 18 people.


    China has invested about $100bn in recent years to expand the capacity of its rail network, but analysts say the system has struggled to keep pace with the demands of the country's rapidly growing economy.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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