Monday 25 July 2011

Lightning strike brings rail disaster

On July 1, I blogged about the role played by lightning strikes in disasters, and on Saturday we saw another, when a Chinese bullet train was struck near the city of Wenzhou.   It stalled, and another train ran into it from behind, killing at least 43 people and injuring another 200.   A four year old child was found alive in one of the carriages 24 hours later.

China’s bullet trains came into service in 2007, with some travelling at more than 180 miles an hour.   In Saturday’s crash, four coaches from the second train fell off a viaduct up to 100 feet high.

Plenty of people are worried about how a lightning strike could cause a disaster on this scale.  Three senior rail officials have been sacked, and an official newspaper has said the crash represented a ‘bloody lesson’ and should be a spur to ‘safer railway standards.’

Public anger seems to go further, though, with 97 per cent declaring themselves unhappy about the government’s response to the accident in an online poll of 44,000, and some blaming official corruption.

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