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Relative hopes to turn ticket sales into charity for victims

(China Daily)

09:54, August 11, 2011

Yang Feng, who lost five family members in the train crash, talks to media in a funeral home in Wenzhou on July 25. (Gao Erqiang / China Daily)

SHANGHAI - A man who lost five family members, including his wife and unborn child, in last month's deadly high-speed train crash hopes to raise money for charity by selling tickets for the train.

Yang Feng declared on his micro blog recently that the profits earned by selling tickets between Shaoxing and Wenzhou in Zhejiang province would be used "to set up the 7.23 foundation to help other relatives of the victims in the accident."

Yang's family members were traveling between the two cities on July 23 when one high-speed train crashed into the rear of another train stalled on the tracks.

The crash killed 40 people and injured nearly 200.

Yang added on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, that he also would like to invite certain NGOs to help set up the foundation if the railway authority allowed him to sell tickets.

"We haven't received a similar request to have a private person run the ticket services on certain lines, and we can't guarantee that it would work as Yang wishes," said Hu Jinghong, director of the news department of the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

Discussions about Yang heated up earlier this week as netizens found out that he was actually not legally married to his wife, who was seven months pregnant.

The families of victims will receive 915,000 yuan ($143,000) each, almost double the original offer of 500,000 yuan.

The payment also includes compensation for emotional distress and one-time aid to help cover living expenses for the victims' children.

According to Guangzhou Daily, Yang admitted that they were not legally married but held a wedding ceremony last year as a couple.

"I know that I am not the beneficiary of the compensation, but I just wanted to find a way to help more people and follow the dream of my wife," said Yang, adding that his wife had wanted to sell tickets for the high-speed trains.

However, some people have noted a recent change in Yang's attitude and behavior.

Two days after the accident, Yang, together with about 100 relatives of other victims, sat in front of a Wenzhou government building in silent protest, asking for a reasonable explanation of the accident.

In an interview on July 25, Yang questioned how authorities handled the rescue, which he said had not begun soon enough nor lasted long enough.

He also insisted in the video interview that he would not give up looking for the true cause of the accident until authorities provided him with a detailed explanation of the crash.

However, netizens said that Yang's attitude toward the accident changed suddenly after meeting railway officials on July 26.

"Yang didn't show up in public to accept interviews after meeting railway officials due to being forced to agree on certain negotiations," said a posting by a netizen named Tianyouzhonghua A, which had been forwarded more than 4,000 times by Weibo users in one day.

Although Yang denied on his micro blog that he would be overwhelmed by money or pressure, he refused to accept any media interviews and urged the media to stop asking why he stopped talking to the public.

Yang did not answer calls on Wednesday, the date of his wife's funeral.


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