China rail firm boss, blamed for crash, dies of heart attack

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2011 6:59 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - The head of a Chinese railways technology firm blamed for faulty signaling gear that caused a high-speed rail crash last month died of a heart attack while the company was being inspected, Chinese media said on Tuesday.

Ma Cheng, the 55-year-old chairman of the board at China Railway Signal & Communication Corp., collapsed at his office on Monday as investigators arrived at the company, a report on the website of news magazine Caixin said.

Ma, who was not known to have heart problems but was under great stress, was later pronounced dead at a hospital, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

The July crash between two bullet trains in Wenzhou in eastern China that killed 40 people triggered public fury, unusually bold media coverage and a freeze on approvals for new railway projects.

Officials blamed the accident first on a lightning strike and then on the company's faulty signal technology.

But Chinese media have quoted a senior investigator as saying the crash also exposed management failings and could have been avoided.

Ma, who assumed his position as chairman of the board late last year after serving as general manager, had nearly 20 years of experience in the industry and was known as a leader on signaling technology, the report said.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)