JINAN (CHINA): A high-speed passenger train jumped the track in Shandong province early on Monday, smashing another train and leaving 70 dead and 416 injured, railway authorities confirmed.
Preliminary investigations suggested the accident was caused by human error. Authorities have ruled out the possibility of terrorism.
The casualties were from both trains, one of which was en route from Beijing to Qingdao, a famous summer resort in Shandong and venue of the Olympic sailing competition. The other was travelling from Yantai in Shandong to Xuzhou in Jiangsu province.
The high-speed train from Beijing, T195, derailed in the city of Zibo around 4.40 a.m. and smashed into train 5034. The second train also left the tracks. At least 12 cars from both trains derailed.
No foreign citizens were killed in the accident. However, four French nationals were hospitalised with bone fractures.
Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang was overseeing rescue work at the site. One passenger, surnamed Zhang, said the train from Beijing was like a “roller coaster”. “It toppled 90 degrees to one side and then all the way to the other side. When it finally went off the tracks, many people fell on me and hot water poured out of their thermos flasks,” said Zhang.
Though investigations are continuing, some investigators said that T195 was travelling at 131 km an hour before the accident, far in excess of the speed limit of 80 km/hr between Zhoucun and Wangcun. — Xinhua