Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chinese netizens outraged over response to fatal bullet train crash

Nationwide outrage continued Monday in China over the government's response to a deadly bullet train collision last weekend, even as operations resumed on the affected high-speed rail lines.

A bullet train was struck from behind Saturday night by another train near Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province, killing at least 38 people -- including two American citizens -- and injuring almost 200. The first train was forced to stop on the tracks due to a power outage and the impact caused six cars to derail, including four that fell from an elevated bridge.

Although Chinese reporters raced to the scene, none of the major state-run newspapers even mentioned the story on their Sunday front pages. A user of Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, first broke the story and increasingly popular social media outlets then provided millions of Chinese with the fastest information and pictures as well as the most poignant and scathing commentaries.

By the time the railway ministry held its first press conference more than 24 hours after the collision, the public had seen not just reports of passengers trapped inside dark trains or images of a mangled car dangling off the bridge -- but also bulldozers crushing mangled cars that had fallen to the ground and burying the wreckage on site.

"How can we cover up an accident that the whole world already knew about?" said a defiant railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping. "They told me they buried the car to facilitate the rescue effort -- and I believe this explanation."

Wang was terse when reporters asked him to explain the fact that a toddler girl was being pulled out of the wreckage alive 20 hours after the accident -- and long after authorities declared no more signs of life in the trains.

"That was a miracle," he said. (more)