China bullet train derails; 16 dead, 89 hurt
Beijing: Passenger coaches of a bullet train derailed and fell off a bridge killing 16 persons and injuring 89 others in eastern China's Zhejiang province late evening Saturday, according to initial reports pouring in.
The China National Radio quoted a railway official as saying that a lightening triggered the accident. But reports of eye witnesses posted on micro blogging sites suggested that the running train had rammed into a stationary train.
Reports posted on Internet sites also suggested sizeable casualties at the scene indicating that the official toll of death might rise in the coming hours. The official Xinhua news agency said the capacity of each coach was 100 passengers.
Two passenger coaches of train No, No D3115 fell off the bridge as it was passing Wenzhou's Shuangyu town near Hangzhou city at 8.30 pm, State media said.
The accident comes within a month after Chinese authorities unveiled the $33 billion Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail system that cuts travel time by half to five hours.
It also comes within days of the authorities mounting special security arrangements along this high-speed route "to eliminate problems that could endanger traffic securityalong the line". But there is no suggestion about possible sabotage from any source in this case.
China's massive investment on railway infrastructure has been shrouded with controversies that resulted in the dismission of former railways minister Liu Zhijun for allegedly taking 800 million yuan in kickbacks on contracts linked to China's high-speed network.
The country's state auditor said last year that onstruction companies and individuals have siphoned off 187 million yuan ($29 million) from the Beijing-Shanghai project.