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China Restores Rail Service After High-Speed Collision Kills 70, Injures Over 400


China has reopened the rail line where a high-speed train crash killed at least 70 people, less than 24 hours after the deadly collision.

Chinese news media say hundreds of workers labored around the clock after Monday's crash, repairing tracks and hauling away passenger coaches scattered across farmland in Zibo, a city in eastern China's Shandong province. By early Tuesday, they say, regular service was restored.

Chinese authorities say excessive speed caused the crash. A train headed from Beijing to the coastal city of Qingdao was traveling at 131 kilometers per hour - nearly twice the maximum speed allowed (80 kph) - when it jumped the tracks and smashed into a provincial train from Yantai in Shandong to Xuzhou in neighboring Jiangsu province, heading in the opposite direction.

At least 70 people were killed immediately. More than 400 survivors were pulled from the wreckage, but hospital reports say 70 of the victims are in critical condition.

The official Xinhua news agency says authorities have dismissed three senior railway officials in Shandong province, and an investigation of the crash is continuing. It is not clear whether either of the train drivers survived the crash, which was the worst in China since a 1997 rail collision in Hunan province killed well over 100 people.

The fired bureaucrats included the director and deputy director of the state railway bureau in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Also dismissed was the railway bureau's top Communist Party official.

Chinese news reports say no foreigners were killed in the crash. Four French nationals who suffered broken bones were treated in Zibo city, then flown to Beijing for further medical attention.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao called for an all-out response to the wreck, Chinese news reports say, adding that about 1,000 soldiers helped to rescue the injured and remove the remains of the dead, They also helped clear away debris.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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