"They cared less about saving people than about putting the incident behind them, fast."
This accident has made people in China angrier than they have been for a long time. Personally, I feel both sadness and outrage. Sadness at the human tragedy, outrage at the reaction of the railway ministry. They botched the rescue, blocked a transparent and thorough investigation [into the causes of the crash] and refused to release the facts concerning the crash. Here are some of the things that make me angriest.
- The rescue efforts were much too short, and were quickly overshadowed by efforts to clear the track to get trains running again. [Officials declared the rescue efforts over just several hours after the crash, yet the following day, a two-year-old girl was found alive under the debris that was being cleared by excavators]. They cared less about saving people than about putting the incident behind them, fast.
- During a press conference, a spokesman for the rail company gave no straightforward answers, and addressed journalists rudely. [When asked why authorities were burying debris, the spokesman dismissed claims it was to hide evidence. Pressed for more explanations, he simply said: “Whether you believe [we aren’t hiding evidence]or not doesn’t matter. I believe it.”]
- The rescue and clearance team showed no respect for the victims of the crash, dead or alive. They treated the bodies like trash and the survivors and families like animals. Relatives got down on their knees to beg for the remains of their loved ones, and were greeted only with indifference.
- Authorities tried to trap journalists. They registered the names of every journalist who attended a press conference on the subject, then ordered their employers to take them off the story. Their purpose is to block information, not to communicate.
- They think they can put a price on human lives. The compensation price the rail company offered to victim’s families is ridiculously low [500,000 yuan, or 54,200 euros] and their offer of a special bonus for the families who sign the compensation contracts first is simply insulting. [Authorities have been accused of pressuring victim’s relatives to sign a compensation contract that would ban them from speaking to journalists. A man called Yang Feng has resisted, saying publicly that he wasn’t satisfied by the official explanation of the crash, and that he wanted truth, not compensation.]