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Media distorted train crash claims: expert

By Huang Jingjing (Global Times)

13:18, November 23, 2011

The deputy head of the team probing the July bullet train crash in Zhejiang Province blamed the media on Monday for distorting his claims that the accident was mainly due to human error and poor management.

"I did not follow the whole investigation process, and what I said about the causes only represented my own opinion. Some media misinterpreted my remarks, over which I feel regret," Wang Mengshu told China Central Television on Monday.

Wang was referring to an interview with the Beijing Times published Sunday, in which he said the probe had pointed to human error and management loopholes as the main causes, differing from previous claims that signal failure was to blame.

"Our findings suggested that the signal system and other devices are safe. Poor maintenance and improper handling of the devices resulted in malfunctions, and incorrect operation by railway employees after the defect led to the tragedy," Wang was quoted as saying.

"The same devices were used on other railways, but have not caused any accidents. We found that the signal system near the accident site had been hit by lightning 700 times in seven minutes before the crash, which was unprecedented, according to our records. But poor maintenance left the device vulnerable to lightning strikes," Wang added.

The bullet train crash happened less than a month after the railway ministry launched the high-speed service between Shanghai and Beijing, dealing a serious blow to the country's railway expansion plan.

Official figures showed 40 people were killed in the accident, and 200 others were injured.

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