Soothing words, but no talk of culpability
Hospitals in Zibo, Shandong province, were under pressure yesterday, not only from treating hundreds of casualties from Monday's two-train collision but also because of frequent visits from officials.
Patients said the officials had expressed their concern about medical care but did not raise the topics of responsibility or compensation.
Liu Xiaoqian, the daughter of a woman on the T195 train from Beijing to Qingdao, said she was moved by the comforting words from Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang who visited patients in the People's Liberation Army's No148 Hospital in Zibo yesterday.
Ms Liu said she was grateful that her mother had survived an operation for head injuries and that Mr Zhang had talked to her mother in a way that showed genuine concern.
But Ms Liu said she was angry that such a collision could happen and that her mother's life had been endangered.
'No officials have raised the topic of responsibility or compensation. They must give us some explanation,' she said. 'I used to be a train attendant, and I know how corrupt the railways officials are. The railways minister [Liu Zhijun ] should resign.'
More than 10 groups of local officials from Yantai, Qingdao and other cities visited victims from their areas in Zibo's four major hospitals yesterday.
Escorted by crowds of government staff and specially assigned local journalists, the officials brought fruit and flowers to patients and left after photographs were taken. Nobody talked about culpability.
The aftermath of the collision also took a psychological toll on up to 600 migrant labourers working nearby who aided the victims before armed police arrived.
'I heard someone yelling: 'Help me, fellow villager.' And I looked for the man but found only half of a body,' one of the workers said.
'I stood still, not knowing what to do. Bodies were everywhere. I saw a child in the arms of his mother, both dead.'
A third official with the Jinan Railway Bureau, acting deputy chief Guo Jiguong, has been sacked because of the crash. Official preliminary investigations indicate that human error was to blame because the T195 train was travelling at 131km/h - well above the 80km/h speed limit on that section of track.