I have been following the development of the D301 and D3115 bullet train crash in Wenzhou. Following segment is from CCTV of a panel criticizing how the Chinese government has handled the rescue and investigation so far. The burying of train D301’s head really doesn’t make sense. The panel raises quite a few issues and I can see the Ministry of Rail having a daunting task ahead in addressing these questions. It is not just the accident itself, but also the activities immediately follows will be scrutinized by the Chinese media. (Update: my translation below the video. Click ‘more.’ This is not a word for word translation, but my first pass at it. I am open to corrections. My vocabulary is not great, and since this is audio, I can’t use a dictionary. I believe the two panelists represent the present mood of the populace.)
Announcer: With 38 dead and over 100 injured in this tragic accident, why did the first train stop and why didn’t the second train stop in time? What kind of safety concerns does this incident bring us?
[Commercial about “今日观察”]
Host: It has been two days, and the 38 dead have yet to be fully identified. We are still waiting for the investigation results for why the second train ramming into the stopped train. There are many issues and questions still to be answered. Yesterday, the Ministry of Rail hosted a press conference to address these.
[Wang Yongping (王勇平), the spokesperson, acknolwedges the concerns of the public.]
On the question of burying D301’s head:
Wang Yongping: He was told near the rescue site, the scene is very complicated. There was a mud pit below, and in order to fasciliate rescue activities around that area, they decided to bury it there to help prop up other structures.
Presently, this is how they explain it.
So, do you believe it?
I believed it.
Announcer: The blackbox has been recovered and when investigation is complete, the public will be informed right away.
[Announcer then describes what transpired during the acciddent using computer animation.]
Announcer: After the collision, the cars that fell off the via duct piled on top of each other. Another car dangling vertically.
[Announcer then says Wenzhou area hospitals mobilized to treat injured and people volunteering to donate blood. Subsegment about the blood drive.]
Announcer: A two year old child was found on July 24th afternoon around 5:20pm at the crash site and rescued.
Announcer: Rescue, clean up, and restoration ocurred quickly and traffic was restored. (I have a hard time understanding this section, so I am paraphrasing.)
Host (at 5:00 mark in video): We saw 24 or so hours after the incident, the Ministry of Rail held a press conference. Spokesperson Wang Yongping’s remarks represented the ministry’s apology.
In explaining the burying of the D301’s head, he said afterwards, “I believe it. Do you believe it?” Why was he concerned with whether people believe it or not? How come there is such a concern?
Panelist 1: The purpose of this press conference is to answer questions, turning question marks into periods. Impossible and questions in fact raise even more questions.
Most simple questions is what is the body count and of those harmed.
The Ministry of Rail has announced they will publish the names later, but what about the concern of the people?
It is the responsibility of the ministry to compile list of deaths, injured, or missing. There is no reason to wait to publish such lists.
Now, families and loved ones are relying on the Internet to ask people to relay words on the whereabouts of people.
Panelist 2: On burying the D301’s head, the head is primary evidence in the investigation of this crash.
Before the investigation is concluded, we have not ruled out whether the train itself had problems.
It is in our law, for severe accidents like this, the scene must be strictly protected until root-cause is determined.
We have heard the spokesperson said in order to fascilitate rescue, they burried the train’s head.
After examining the train, there could be more questions.
One natural concern that I have is – are there still people inside the train head?
What about the luggage of the passengers (whether belonging to the dead or those alive)?
They said there weren’t any bodies in it. But we also know after the rescue was supposedly over, we found a young girl.
We have many questions now that shouldn’t be questions to begin with (implying if things were done more properly).
We see that the federal government is extremely concerned about the proper handling of this accident.
A Shanghai rail official was sacked. Now that we are investigating his background, we know he was an official in 2008. (I couldn’t fully understand what his responsibilities were then, but the panelist is linking him to that earlier accident.)
Panelist 1: Perhaps the burying of the train head has really good reason. But we don’t know. They had so many equipment on hand, so we naturally wonder why not bury one of them instead?
You announced the rescue is over and during the cleanup you suddenly discover a two year-old girl.
We now know the father took her to ride the bullet train for the first time. He even sent an Weibo saying taking her to Hanzhou.
Now we know both of her parents died.
Her survival was purely based on her will. (Not sure ‘will’ is the right word, my vocabulary is not so good.)
In the earthquake experience, we know that rescue efforts should be given 72 hours. But, 72 hours have not passed.
In hurrying to open traffic on that line, are we not giving life a chance?
Host: We want to know what caused the accident. We are concerned with how the subsequent activities are conducted. Let’s here what an expert says.
Expert: The trains have counter-measures for thunderstorms. We don’t know the investigation results yet. If the lightning is strong, the train can lose drive. It depends on what parts are impacted. For a catastrophe to occur, many factors will need to be lined up.