China Transfers Embattled Railway Official to Poland

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 9:25 am (UTC-5)
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China's official Xinhua news agency says the spokesman for Beijing's embattled railways ministry has been transferred to Poland, just weeks after a high speed crash of two bullet trains that killed 40 people in eastern China.

Xinhua says spokesman Wang Yongping will be assigned to a Warsaw-based international railway cooperative organization. Wang sparked widespread outrage in China in the hours following the July 23 crash when he declared it a miracle that a 2-year-old girl was found unconscious but alive in the wreckage nearly 24 hours after the crash.

It was later reported the girl was rescued by an alert police officer only after rescue workers called off their search for survivors. State media, reflecting public outrage over railway safety, questioned why rescue efforts were stopped so quickly and why the toddler wasn't rescued sooner by emergency personnel.

Last week, Beijing ordered one of the country's leading train manufacturers to shut down some production lines because of problems in a safety system that caused repeated delays on the Beijing-to-Shanghai high-speed line. The government also suspended all new railway construction projects while it conducts a nationwide safety inspection.

The government fired several other top railway ministry officials within days of crash.

China has poured billions of dollars into its scandal-plagued bullet train network, prompting critics to complain that Beijing has sought rapid economic growth at the expense of safety.