Over 290 Injured as 2 Subway Trains Rear-End
   2011-09-27 15:28:30    Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhangjin

Passengers get injured after one subway train rear-ended another on Shanghai subway Line 10 Tuesday afternoon, September 27, 2011. [Photo: eastday.com]

Backgrounder: Major Metro Accidents in China

A subway train rear-ended another train Tuesday afternoon in Shanghai, injuring more than 290 passengers, including four foreigners.

So far, a total of 271 people have received treatment in hospitals, said Xu Jianguang, director of Shanghai's health bureau, at a press briefing late Tuesday.

Most of the injuries are bruises and bone fractures, but there are also external head traumas, doctors said. An estimated 20 injured people are in critical condition but the injuries are not life-threatening, they said.

Xu said that 180 people have already been discharged from hospital.

The crash occurred at about 2:51 p.m. following a signal system failure at a station on the Line 10 subway, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co. said in a statement, adding that about 500 passengers were later evacuated from the trains.

The subway train stopped for about 15 minutes and then continued before stopping again for another ten minutes before crashing into the other train, a young passenger on the train's first carriage said.

The signal system failure at about 2:10 p.m. meant the trains had to be directed via phone by subway staff rather than by electric signals and were thus running at slower speeds, the subway operator's statement said.

The signal system is a product of Casco Signal Ltd., a joint venture of China Railway Signal and Communication Corp. and Alstom, which reportedly supplies signal systems to a number of subways in Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen.

Casco was blamed for a subway train crash in Shanghai in 2009.

Casco also provided the centralized traffic control system for a railway in east China's Zhejiang Province, where two bullet trains crashed on July 23, killing 40 people and injuring 177.

Jiang Jianhua, Casco's chief engineer, could not be reached for comment. A staff member at Casco's headquarters declined to confirm with Xinhua if the company had launched an investigation into the accident.

The company's website (www.casco.com.cn) could not be opened late Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday's crash was the result of the third system failure on Line 10 in the last two months.

Yu Guangyao, president of the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, said Tuesday at the briefing that Casco promised Shentong that it would fix the signal system after a failure guided a train on Line 10 to run in the opposite direction on July 23.

Five days later, another Line 10 train stalled in the tunnel after a control device broke down.

No casualties or injuries were reported in the two previous accidents.

Shanghai has set up an investigation team. The team, headed by the city's work safety bureau, will include independent experts and investigators from the city's construction and traffic committees and the traffic bureau, said Sun Jianping, head of the traffic bureau, at the news briefing.

According to Sun, Shanghai's Communist Party chief Yu Zhengsheng and Mayor Han Zheng have requested all-out efforts for treating the injured and a safety overhaul for the city's metro system.

They also urged investigators to inform the public about their progress in a timely manner and ensure the investigation's openness and transparency, Sun said.

Photos posted on Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like microblogging service, showed several passengers bleeding, with firefighters entering the train to rescue the injured.

"I was stunned, not knowing what happened. We tried to open doors and windows but couldn't. I felt smoke in the car," a passenger said shortly after being rescued from the train.

"The train braked suddenly...some people fell and some cried, then the automatic alarm sounded," said another passenger surnamed Bian.

Four foreigners, including two from Japan, one from Canada and one from the Philippines, suffered minor injuries during the accident and have received treatment at hospital, according to the municipal health bureau.

As of late Tuesday, Line 10 had resumed operations, limiting speeds to 45 kilometers per hour, said Yu Guangyao. Earlier subway services at nine stations on Line 10 were halted.

However, service on a section of the subway line between the Yili Road Station and the North Sichuan Road Station, which includes 12 stops, will be suspended for safety checks starting Wednesday, according to the press briefing.

It is not known when the section will resume full operation.

The subway operator offered an apology via its verified Weibo account at 8:20 p.m.

"Today is a dark day in the history of Shanghai Metro. We feel deeply sorry for the injuries and losses of the passengers no matter what the investigation results will be," said a brief statement from "shmetro."

Yu Guangyao also bowed and apologized to the wounded passengers and the public at Tuesday night's news briefing.


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