China’s media brands metro crash `embarrassment`

A crash on one of Shanghai`s newest subway lines is the latest stumble in China`s rush to roll out modern services.

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2011, 11:47 AM IST

Beijing: Shanghai`s metro operator came under fresh fire on Thursday, with Chinese media saying a crash that injured more than 280 people was an "embarrassment" to the company.

The accident has shaken Shanghai and added to doubts over the safety of China`s rapidly developing transport network, after a high-speed train crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed at least 40 people in July.

The Shanghai Metro Company has said errors by its staff played a role in the accident, though it also blamed a signal failure caused by loss of power.

"The accident is an embarrassment for the Shanghai Metro operator because it had promised that the current signalling system would prevent trains from hitting one another," the official China Daily newspaper said.

"If this was the case, then why did such an unlikely accident occur?"

Users of China`s Twitter-like "Weibo", or microblogs, meanwhile questioned the sincerity of the company`s apology for the accident.

The metro operator quickly posted an apology after the accident on Tuesday afternoon, calling it the "darkest day" in the 16-year history of the metro.

But that apology was removed and replaced with another that dropped the "darkest day" reference before the original was again re-posted, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.

"The official apology was deleted and issued again," said Yue Luo Zi Mo, writing on Sina Weibo, China`s biggest microblog service. "I hope they can give the nation the truth."

Weibos have proven to be an effective public platform for people to criticise the government and companies as traditional media outlets such as newspapers are tightly controlled by the authorities.

Another official newspaper, the Beijing Times, said ensuring safety was more important than an apology.

"If the accident can`t be a lesson for the company and the experience fails to be applied to future safety measures, the apology is just not trustworthy or acceptable," it said in a commentary.

Bureau Report