At least 11 dead after trains collide in eastern China

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 23, 2011 11:58 AM
At least 11 dead after trains collide in eastern China

BEIJING (Reuters) - At least 11 people have died after two high-speed trains crashed into each other in China's eastern province of Zhejiang on Saturday causing two carriages to fall off a bridge, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Another 89 people have been sent to hospital, it added. Each carriage could carry about 100 people, Xinhua said.

The accident occurred after the first train was hit by lightning and lost power, and was then rear-ended by another bullet train, Xinhua added, citing provincial television.

Pictures on state television's main news channel showed one carriage on the ground under the bridge, with another hanging above it.

The government has spent billions of dollars boosting the railway network of the world's most populous country and has said it plans to spend $120 billion a year, over several years, on railway construction.

But the vast network has been hit by a series of scandals and safety incidents over the past few months. Three railway officials have been probed for corruption so far this year, according to local media reports.

In February, Liu Zhijun was sacked as railways minister for "serious disciplinary violations." He had spearheaded the investment drive into the rail sector over the last decade.

The flagship Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line that opened earlier this month has been plagued by power outages, leaving passengers stranded for hours on stuffy trains on at least three times since it was opened.

The Beijing-Shanghai link is the latest and most feted portion of a network the government hopes will stretch over 45,000 km (28,000 miles) by the end of 2015.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Jacqueline Wong and Jason Subler in Shanghai)