China orders safety review after high-speed rail crash

China has ordered a two-month nationwide safety review of its railways amid public anger at a deadly crash between two bullet trains.

Rail minister Sheng Guangzu apologised for the collision in eastern Zhejiang province, saying the campaign would focus on China's high-speed network.

Thirty-nine people died in Saturday's crash, with nearly 200 people injured.

The government has begun compensating victims' relatives, paying one family $77,500 (£47,000), reports say.

The family of the victim, Lin Yan, was the first to reach a compensation deal with the local government, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The two trains collided during a storm, apparently after lightning knocked out power to the first, shunting four carriages from a viaduct and forcing two off the rails.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

Lessons to be learned

Mr Sheng said railway officials would be deployed at frontline rail operations across the country to overhaul maintenance standards and checks on power connections to pre-empt outages.

All local railway bureaux were to draw lessons from the accident, a statement on the railways department website said.

Image caption The Zhejiang crash is the country's deadliest rail accident since 2008

Public fury and scepticism have been expressed in China's blogosphere, both about the death toll of 39 people - suggesting it is too low - and the safety of China's rail network.

State newspapers have also expressed concern. The Global Times ran a headline: Anger mounts at lack of answers.

"As the world is experiencing globalisation and integration, why can't China provide the same safety to its people?" an editorial read.

The official China Daily newspaper said there were "unanswered questions" about why the driver of the second train was not warned that the first had stalled.

Journalists have reportedly been told to focus on positive stories while an official investigation is carried out.

Meanwhile, more than 20 trains were delayed for up to three hours on Monday due to a power outage on the much-lauded high-speed link between Beijing and Shanghai.

The power cut was blamed on storms which blew an iron sheet onto a power line, cutting it.

Power outages and other malfunctions have occurred on the line since it opened in June.

Its top speed had already been lowered, from 350km/h (217mph) to 300km/h (186mph) for safety reasons.

China has plans to link remote parts of the country by high-speed rail; it also wants to develop sales of its train technology around the world.

Alongside the safety concerns have been revelations of corruption and the sacking of senior officials.

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