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November 21, 2011

Wenzhou accident report blames

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AN investigation by the Chinese government into July's collision between two high-speed trains near Wenzhou, which killed 40 people and injured more than 200, has concluded that "poor management of the local railway administration" was to blame, according to a report in the state-controlled Beijing News.

"They had all the best equipment but did not maintain it well. The failure of their facilities, along with inadequate operation, resulted in the tragedy," Mr Wang Mengshu, deputy head of the investigative panel told the newspaper, adding that the investigators "found no design flaws in the signalling system after investigation and a simulation of the accident."

On July 23, five days after the accident, the head of Shanghai Railway Beureau Mr An Lusheng, announced that the accident had been caused by signalling design flaws. An said that the signal protecting the first train, which had come to a halt following a lightning strike, failed to turn from green to red, allowing the following train to crash into the rear of the stationary train.

On the same day, China's Premier Mr Wen Jiabao said: "I believe we should provide the public with a responsible explanation."

In September, the People's Daily quoted an unnamed member of the investigating team as saying the accident was caused by human error and faulty equipment. It was reported at this time that the signalling system, which was still functioning four minutes before the crash, encountered more than 100 lightning strikes in seven minutes.

The preliminary technical report was submitted to China's State Council in September, but the State Administration of Work Safety said more time would be needed to complete the investigation, the full details of which have still not been made public.

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