Death (and More) on the High Speed Rail, Day 3

UPDATE 3: Added paike footage of the toddler’s rescue to the end of the post.

UPDATE 2: Added “Donations” section with translated comments from a Tianya post.

UPDATE 1: Added information about the driver, media coverage, and a video from Shanghaiist, as well as information about a new Weibo poll.

If you haven’t, please read the first two posts on this subject to catch up to today.

This video, posted to Youku, is purportedly the first video of the crash itself. It begins with scenes of the rain, but at the end shows a train moving and then some very bright sparks, or…something. You be the judge:

Caixin released a report on the causes of the accident (emphasis added):

9:15 p.m.: Caixin has published a technical piece on the China Train Control System (CTCS), the train operation technology used by both trains involved in the crash. The system, wholly-controlled by an automated computer system, transmits information and monitors speed, taking into account inclement weather conditions like wind, rain and snow.

The report includes videos and explanations from the technology’s designers, and concludes that the accident was entirely preventable had the system been in full force. According to the system’s designs, the traffic control center should have detected the D3115’s slowdown and subsequent halting, and then notified any trains coming up from behind.

More details are available at that link.

The death toll continues to fluctuate, with some reports citing 39 dead, the netizen-crowdsourced list now listing 38 names, and Xinhua’s stories apparently edited to report 36 dead, down from 38 yesterday. But the Global Times puts the death toll at 40 today.

Also in edited news, with regards to the body-falling video on Youku mentioned yesterday, one commenter pointed out that the video has been edited. When originally posted, the video played smoothly, and there was clearly something falling from the train at around the 0:09 mark. Whether or not it was a body is debatable, but now the evidence of whatever it was appears to have been swept clean. Observe, the video now skips slightly at the 0:09 mark. The section where the falling object was visible has been deleted.

That video link was circulated widely on Youku, and was edited at some point yesterday afternoon. Compare it to this, a copy of the exact same video, circulated less widely and as yet unedited.

In case that is also edited, the video has also been copied to Youtube here, although it is a lower fidelity version and thus is a bit less clear.

Suspicion about the incident continues to be widespread. The newest user-created Weibo poll asks if people believe the government’s official casualty figures, and while it only has around 2,000 responses so far, 94% of respondents chose: “I absolutely don’t believe [the figures], if you use your brain to think about it, how could it be possible so few people died?”

Shanghaiist has also been following this story and providing excellent coverage. Two especially worthy pieces of theirs are this, which illustrates the media response to the accident, and this, the translation of a supposed conversation with the driver of the front train, who has not been heard from since the accident. The conversation, especially its ending, seem awfully convenient, and there’s no way to confirm its authenticity, but it’s worth a read anyway.

Meanwhile, other high-speed trains continue to experience power issues, as more problems caused another swath of delays on Monday.


An interesting question raised by this incident is how regular people can help. Upon hearing of the crash, many netizens wished to donate money. But the Chinese Red Cross, the place most people would generally donate money to in this sort of situation, is still tainted by the recent high-profile scandals and many no longer trust them to deliver donations.

Consider, for example, this Tianya thread about the crash in which the OP asks people to donate to the Chinese Red Cross (thanks to Jake F. for this link). Some responses:


You’re donating? I’m not going to get tricked again.

The OP is a master of satire.

Go to hell.

Donate money to Guo Meimei?

The Red Cross shouldn’t even be trying to get donations, they lost so much face and haven’t gained enough back yet.

I fuck your mom! Donate! Donate to the Black Cross Society, you might as well just throw your money away!

Who are you trying to fool?

Red Louse Society [a pun, “louse” is pronounced in a way similar to “cross”]

Donate your mom’s **** ((Yup, I’m not gonna translate that one.))

Go away.

Anyone who donates has no penis.

They found another excuse to dig out some money. Strongly disdain [in his post, this phrase is then copy-pasted around twenty more times].

The Red Cross represents the nation in begging for money.

This is a righteous slap to the face of the Black Society ((here, he means the Red Cross, not gangster/criminal society)).

Those are just a few quotes from the first half of the first page of the thread. At present, it goes on for another 44 pages, without much change in discussion. Right now, the most recent comment on the post is a joke about the original poster’s sister.

Rescue Footage

This video is gaining popularity on Youku right now. It shows the entire process of the young girl’s rescue on Sunday afternoon. It was posted about 15 hours ago and already has over 300,000 plays and 600 comments.

0 thoughts on “Death (and More) on the High Speed Rail, Day 3”

  1. Live editing of online flash-videos without interrupting the process/deleting the video/resetting the stats?

    Well somebody is stepping up his game.


  2. That supposed conversation with the surviving driver is a bit too neat and tidy. But is he suggesting that the rear cars had already derailed BEFORE impact? And why no mention of lightning or a lightning strike? No mention of catastrophic power/systems failure on the leading train.


  3. MiniTrue report doubleplus.good noble leader visit site of terror act by agents Goldstein. No death reports onsite MiniTrue reports 40 enemy agents killled, BB speech ChingSoc continues double plus good.


  4. Errr. . . the falling object (which appears to have been hanging between the train and the viaduct before the train moved) is still visible in both videos – isn’t it? The “skip” happens after that.


  5. @ FOARP: No, it’s not that. As that thing is falling, look to the left and slight up, you’ll see a smaller falling object in the second video. In the first video, you can no longer see it.


  6. @Custer – To be honest, having watched it over-and-over, I cannot see anything that looks much more than vaguely body-shaped in either video. Frankly, and this is not to pass judgement on anyone who does, but watching a video over and over to see whether a body-shaped-object is falling out of train makes me feel like a bit of a creep. Perhaps, if you don’t think it’s too creepy, you could post a picture with the object you are talking about circled?

    I guess the idea that the government (or whoever) might be editing random videos (but not all of them) to remove very unclear footage of what might have been a body left on the train just seems a bit far-fetched to me. Yes, the censors have shown themselves to be capable of many things, but this seems to be straying into the Anti-CNN field of finding fiddling where none may actually exist.


  7. @C. Custer

    MiniPlenty reports bullet train services to unincrease due to spontaneous bouts of walking, population of Eastasia seeks more ways to think healthwise. MiniPax speech report agents of Wicked Imperialism attempts of sabotaging bullet train system foiled by The Party, recent ungood crash a trap set for agents of Wicked Imperialism, BB speech reports fullwise these traitors all caught before act of sabotage.


  8. From a friend here in Shanghai: “I’m never taking the trains again! How can China kill all those innocent people and break up all those families!”

    When I asked her how she would get to Suzhou/Hangzhou, she replied she’d fly from now on. Chinese are pretty petrified by this. What a gong show.


  9. To be honest, it has me wondering too. We take the high speed rail pretty frequently when traveling to shoot our film; it’s the difference between a 3 hour trip to Taiyuan and a 10 hour trip on a sleeper.

    However, if the three hour trip comes with horrific delays followed by a deadly crash….we’ll take the slow train. Or a plane, if we can afford it….


  10. @narsfweasels:

    You know, this would make a great twitter account. Rewriting all the propaganda headlines and major China stories in newspeak. It would make a great complement to the @relevantorgans. Just sayin’ 🙂

    (If you decide to do it, let me know so I can pass the account name along to my followers)


  11. Hey about that 35 dead rule, I posted this yesterday but it got lost in the old post and I don’t think anyone saw it:

    This just in, on behalf of some digging from my wife:


    2007年10月,福建莆田火灾 34人死亡

    @东方卫视-媒体工作者:知道为什么死亡人数控制在36人以内吗?超过 36人 市委书记这个级别的要撤职 所以一开始发生 就注定了死亡人数不会超过36 200公里 没系安全带 只死35人 你信吗? 要不你开车100码不系安全带试试 看你会不会挂 何况是200码 汽车安全测试 60公里不系安全带 死亡率50%以上,人在做天在看太无耻了 原文转发(16274)|原文评论(2156) http(:)//

    Original link, apparently with a pic of someone’s corrections on the right side:


    If you have a weibo account, you can check out the link there, but unfortunately, I don’t, and can’t be asked to set one up. Also, I put parentheses around the colon in the links so it wouldn’t get caught by the spam filter.


  12. @Josh

    Pfffft. 38 cases of 33-35 deaths in nearly 20 years doesn’t seem particularly suspicious to me. Accidents with death tolls in this range are unfortunately not all that rare in China, so I don’t think those cases necessarily indicate any kind of conspiracy. I did some quick math and it doesn’t seem implausible at all, not unless there was a sudden huge dropoff in frequency at 36.


  13. It seems that few are looking at a rational explanation for this disaster, which is the mix and match of diverse HSR technologies from Canada, Japan, Germany plus a few shanzhai versions within an all-to-rapid timeframe, combined with a total disregard for safety and quality testing procedures.

    Consequently, I’m opting for a conspiracy theory as suggested above. Evil outsiders introduced a stuxnet virus into railway control central to ruin the birthday party.

    Seriously, explanations revolving around acts of nature aka lightning are so much hogwash. Surely Japan must experience vicious tropical storms accompanied by lightning, yet has a near perfect safety record.

    We are talking about the Party and its engineering mentality, but bugger the important details involved.

    The Games 08. the high point.
    The Three Gorges
    The HSR network
    And just wait for the next step in the annals of the Party’s achievements ie South-North Water Diversion Project.
    Probably timed for completion in ten years. It will turn the north western deserts into fields of undulating green (biblical imagery here), and the excess ‘borrowed water’ will keep Beijings 67 golf courses in pristine condition.


  14. @Mac,

    How about if we remove the outliers on a frequency distribution and bring it from the 2003 accident to the present, in which case we have 32 accidents within 8 years, all with similar death statistics?

    Of course I have no way to refute your doubts beyond a reasonable doubt since access to death statistics on accidents that are not major national disasters are generally unavailable. Then again underrreporting of accident related casualties is very common in China, particularly with coal mines, so you would just have to take whoever wrote that’s word for it that given Chinese officials’ propensity toward juking the stats and 32 accidents in 8 years with startlingly similar death statistics, that there might be something fishy going on.


  15. Well, the ccp can do “swift” when they’re in the mood. But “open and transparent” might be a tall order.

    If the safety mechanisms on a 2 year old rail line are not yet fully functional due to supply chain issues, then one wonders about their new Beijing-to-shanghai outfit. On the other hand, that one is a promotional priority, so maybe the safety hardware on that line got the benefit of fast-tracking.


  16. @SKC. Irrespective of the line or the time, it all appears to be swift, and lordy knows, it has bought down a world of media trouble.

    My point was that this mix and match approach (of not necessarily compatible systems)was a result of political go-fast priorities, where safety systems sort of got lost in the process.

    The lighting alibi: even my cat sniggers at that one.

    And while I’m labouring this point to death, this mix and match plus a bit of shanzhai approach also applies to China’s recent
    advances in air and naval power. The logistical supports required to make these recent advances effective in a real military situation just don’t exist.

    While there is one excellent analysis on this fatal flaw to be found in The Diplomat, it has been drowned out by a large number of nitwit op pieces to the effect that Chinese air and naval power will soon be able to challenge the US in the Pacific.

    And I’m sure that China’s military authorities quietly recognise this weakness/cobbling together disparate military assets and technologies, while at the same time stroking the victimhood China now stands tall narrative.


  17. Apologies. I should have added.

    It is a good thing that China has gone for a 21st century HSR solution. However, such mega projects as this have their own construction timeline, and that should not have been subordinated to political priorities, since we all know what will be sacrificed.

    No sane country needs more cars and highways.

    Christ, I live in a city which is still throwing good money after bad on old 2Oth traffic solutions, when we should be opting for something like Shenzhen’s subway system. Shenzhen adds a couple of new extensions to its system every few months, and it doesn’t even make a big media splash.


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