04/28/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Trains collide in Shandong: 66 dead, 247 injured

At least 10 injured are in a critical condition. The old railway was to have been substituted with high speed tracks in time for the Olympics.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The death toll from a collision between two trains in Shandong continues to rise.  So far the certified dead are 66 people, but among the over 400 receiving hospital treatment at least 247 are seriously wounded and 70 in critical conditions.

The collision took place at 4.43 am (local time) in Zibo (Shandong) between a train directed from Beijing towards Qingdao and a second travelling from Yantai towards Xuzhou (Jiangsu). The two trains were travelling at full speed when the Beijing train derailed on broken tracks.  The exact mechanics of the accident have yet to be ascertained.

State television confirmed that the railway had been built in 1897 and should have been substituted with high speed in time for the Olympics, in order to facilitate the arrival of tourists to a marine area, where they Games will be held.

The government of Zibo has sent a squadron of 1500 men to the scene of the accident in order to aid survivors and help with the relief efforts.  Liu Zhijun, minister for Railways has arrived at the accident site, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang.

Last January, also in Shandong, a high speed train crashed into a group of workers who were working on track maintenance, leaving 18 dead.

Today’s accident is the worst train disaster to hit China since 1997, when more that 100 people were killed in a train collision in Hunan province.

 

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