Business, Finance & Economics

China orders broad safety review of bullet-train network after fatal crash

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Workers prepare the wreckage of high-speed train carriage for transportation, two days after a fatal collision, in Shuangyu.

Credit:

STR

China on Tuesday ordered a national safety review of its railway system after a high-speed train crash killed at least 39 people and fueled doubts about the country's booming economy.

Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu said authorities must heed the "bitter lesson" of Saturday's collision near the eastern city of Wenzhou, AFP news agency reported.

"We must on one hand extract these lessons and deeply examine and reflect on them, while rousing ourselves from this setback and concentrating our efforts on inspecting and rectifying hidden safety problems," he said.

The crash has sparked widespread public accusations that safety took a back seat in the rush to build a modern bullet-train network, which the communist authorities like to hold up as a symbol of China's economic might.

The network, the biggest of its kind in the world, opened to passengers in 2007 and the government already has plans to expand it in line with the country's booming growth.

(Earlier on GlobalPost: Toddler found alive in China train wreck)

A two-month safety review would pay particular attention to the fast-train network, which has been plagued by problems such as power outages, AP reported.

In addition to the 39 killed, almost 200 were injured when a train rammed into the back of another that had stalled after being hit by lightning.

Six carriages came off the rails and four plunged up to 100 feet (30 meters) from a viaduct.

The crash has fed investor concerns that China's infrastructure development is unable to keep pace with the runaway expansion of its economic output.

The Shanghai Composite Index slumped three percent on Monday and China-exposed stocks were sold on Wall Street as investorts reacted to news of the accident.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that the crash "raises important questions about the Chinese government's ability to ensure basic safety standards as it pursues the glory of superlative-inspiring trophy projects."