ZIBO, Shandong: Speeding was the cause of the derailment which led to the country`s worst train accident in a decade that killed 71 and injured 416.
The finding was announced by Wang Jun, director of the State Administration of Work Safety who heads an investigation panel, at a meeting yesterday morning.
A Beijing-Qingdao train veered off the rails near Zibo and was hit by another train, from Yantai to Xuzhou in Jiangsu province, coming from the opposite direction, at 4:38 am on Monday,
"The speed limit on that part of the route is 80 kph, but the train was traveling at 131 kph," Wang said, adding initial investigations suggest there are "serious safety flaws" in the railway system at some places.
Another high-ranking railway official was sacked yesterday in response to the accident.
Guo Jiguang, executive deputy director of the Jinan Railway Bureau, was dismissed and is subject to an investigation by the Ministry of Railways, Liu Zhijun, railway minister, announced at a meeting.
Zhuang He, assistant to the director of the command center of the ministry`s transportation bureau, was appointed new deputy director.
Two other top officials - Chen Gong, director, and Chai Tiemin, Party secretary of the Jinan bureau - were sacked hours after the accident. It is reported that a senior prosecutor has gone to the scene to investigate possible dereliction of duty.
The railway line was reopened to traffic at 2 am yesterday after work crews used heavy cranes to clear the tracks of damaged rail cars.
Apart from 1,000 railway construction workers and engineers, more than 1,700 People`s Liberation Army soldiers, policemen and firemen were also dispatched to help with the rescue work.
The death toll from the accident rose to 71 by last night, according to the Ministry of Railway - one more than previously announced - of whom only 26 were identified. No foreigner was among the dead.
Seventy of the injured were in critical condition in hospital.
Information about the identified fatalities - 16 male and 10 female - can be found on Sina.com.
They were mostly residents of northern and northeastern parts of the country, including two from Beijing.
Among them, two were college students in Beijing: 25-year-old Wang Tingting at the University of International Business and Economics, and 23-year-old Huang Hao at Renmin University of China.
Xinhua contributed to the story