China Train Crash: Social Media Users Allege Cover-up

A horrific train collision that occurred in China on the evening of July 25 has seen very little national media coverage and has been mostly covered by Chinese social media. Aficionados continue to express their distaste in how Chinese government and media are handling the situation.

News of the crash broke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, according to CNN.

A high speed train that stopped on the tracks near the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang, China, due to a power outage was rear ended by another train, causing six cars of the first train to derail, four of which fell down from an overpass.

Users of Sin Weibo as well as other popular social media platforms quickly spread breaking details and photos about the high speed collision. The train crash has killed at least 38 people, including 2 Americans, and left almost 200 injured. Sin Weibo continues to be the main source of information on the accident.

No reports of the accident were seen in China’s main newspapers the next day, leaving “netizens” or internet citizens wondering what the media and government were trying to cover up.

Over 24 hours transpired after the crash before China's Railway Ministry held its first press conference about the accident. By then, web users had already publicized reports and several photos, including those showing passengers trapped inside of dark trains, a mangled car dangling off the bridge, bulldozers brushing mangled cars that have fallen to the ground and burying the wreckage on site.

"This is a country where a thunderstorm can cause a train to crash, a car can make a bridge collapse and drinking milk can lead to kidney stones," user "xiaoyaoyouliu" posted on Sina Weibo, according to CNN. "Today's China is a bullet train racing through a thunderstorm – and we are all passengers onboard."

The ministry’s knowledge of the crash and its survivors seemed to be limited as well. A 2-year-old child was rescued alive from the wreckage hours after the Railway Ministry had confirmed that all survivors were found.

Ministry spokesperson Wang Youping later called the child’s discovery a "miracle."

Youping also rejected allegations of a cover-up, saying, "How can we cover up an accident that the whole world already knew about?"

Sina Weibo users have now switched their coverage on the crash itself to an informal investigation on the efficiency of the Railway Ministry as well as of the trains themselves.

Considered the leader in advanced transportation technology, China is home to the longest high-speed train network, which is constantly under development. According to CNN, the government plans to dedicate over $400 billion into railway projects over the next five years.

Continued commentary says that the Chinese government needs to put less effort into creating the fastest rail systems and more effort into making trains safer.

The safety of China’s high speed trains has constantly been in question. In an attempt to highlight potential risks of the trains, Sina Weibo users have posted a video of Railway Ministry’s chief engineer speaking of the technologies that had been put in place to prevent train collisions and pointed the links between the recent crash and another 2008 train crash that killed 72 people.