News / Asia

China Horrified by High-Speed Train Accident

A high speed bullet train runs past a railway bridge as workers use cranes to lift a wrecked carriage onto a truck after two trains crashed and derailed in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, July 26, 2011.
A high speed bullet train runs past a railway bridge as workers use cranes to lift a wrecked carriage onto a truck after two trains crashed and derailed in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, July 26, 2011.


  • VOA's Bill Ide reports on China's deadly train accident

Sarah Williams

The Chinese government has ordered an investigation into the train crash that killed at least 39 people Saturday.

The accident took place on a high-speed rail line in eastern China between the cities of Hangzhou and Wenzhou, and has sparked public outrage. VOA's Sarah Williams spoke with correspondent William Ide, who is traveling in Beijing.

Tell us exactly what happened on Saturday.

"So far all we know is that one of the trains had stalled after being struck by lightning, and then another train rammed into it. But in between, there hasn't been a lot of indications of what else might have happened and this in turn has churned up a whole bunch of response not only online from netizens but also in the state media from reporters and bloggers all asking one of the big questions that how is it that this one train had stalled and yet the other train was not contacted before it rammed into that train. So, still a lot of questions there and of course, that's why they've begun this review."

Listen to the entire interview with Bill Ide in Beijing

It's interesting that you say there has been critical comment even from the state media. That suggests, you know, there is a lot of concern about this incident.

"As someone who watches China, and who has been watching China for a long time, I've been really surprised at the amount and outpouring of criticism that there's been. And of course in the state media, it's more along the lines of calling for a more thorough investigation but still nonetheless being very outspoken. Online, though, there's a lot of criticism, a lot of skepticism, cynicism, there were railway ministry officials have said repeatedly they were sorry about what has happened and this has been basically mocked online. I saw this one poll this morning that was saying, 'Do you agree that they're really sorry, does this make a difference?' And of course a lot of people online don't really think it gets to the bottom of it, what they really want to know is why these problems happen.

People stand by candles lit in memory of those who were killed in the train accident in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province July 25, 2011 (Reuters).

These high speed trains have been a great source of pride, previously, for the country.  Now, the public must view them somewhat differently.

"Yeah, and again there was a poll on that too. Not necessarily on taking high speed rail, but just taking trains, 'Are you going to take a train,' the poll asked.   Obviously, people have not entirely stopped taking trains because of the incident, but it has raised questions in the minds of people who need to get from one place to another.  And it really has punctured a hole, I think, in the pride of this massive effort that now, some believe may have taken place too fast and because of that fact, there were safety issues that have arisen in the process.

Bill, there's been a lot of publicity about a two-year-old girl, who was badly injured in the crash, and she's received a lot of publicity.  What is known about her situation?

"Right now, we know she's in stable condition. But, on the one hand, while I was earlier saying that there's a lot of criticism out there, there's been a tremendous outpouring of concern for fellow human beings in the wake of this incident.  There were villagers that rushed to the scene and helped authorities to rescue those who had been injured. And the case of Xiang Weiyi, this young girl has also captured the heart of a nation, really, and on television here, they've gone and found her parents, who've both passed away, they've found their Twitter-like blog, and postings that they've put up, even up to several hours before this incident occurred. And it's a really touching story, and they're people who've put postings up in return, wishing her well and to go on and have a happy life."

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.

All About America