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Speeding driver indicted in derailment tragedy

Update: March, 15/2005 - 00:00

Speeding driver indicted in derailment tragedy

(15-03-2005)

Doctors at Hue Central Hospital treat a victim of the train accident. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Viet

THUA THIEN — HUE — Accusing driver Bui Thai Son of the Ha Noi-HCM City E1 train squarely for the derailment that killed 11 and injured 100 people last Saturday, investigators have concluded speeding to have caused the accident in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

Inspectors of the Public Security Ministry, Thua Thien-Hue Province and Viet Nam Railway Corporation came to the conclusion after opening the black box of the train on Sunday, in what has been described as the country’s worst-ever rail accident.

Confirming the findings, Nguyen Thanh Toan, deputy director of Thua Thien-Hue Public Security Department, said charges would be framed against the driver for overspeeding, negligence, and violating obligatory regulations of the Railway Traffic Control.

According to inspectors, the train was travelling at 63km, exceeding the allowed 40km limit, when the accident occurred. Son was driving too fast ignoring the speed signboards that have been put up at regular intervals along the railway, Vu Van Doa, Director of the Ha Noi Locomotive Enterprise, said.

Witnesses and passengers who survived the accident also confirmed that the train was travelling at a high speed when the accident occurred. "I felt the train gathering speed just before the incident," said Nguyen Thi Suu, one of the injured passengers hospitalised in Hue.

"There was a violent sound as the cars collided into each other before turning upside down," Suu, a Ha Noi resident, added.

The ill-fated train was 20 minutes behind schedule and that may have prompted the driver to increase speed, according to Nguyen Dinh Dieu, Lang Co Station agent. Driver Son, detained at the Lang Co Station in Hue for questioning, was later released.

The worst-ever rail accident has prompted local media and provincial authorities to question the traffic safety of the 30-hour north-south express.

In an urgent press conference held yesterday, Nguyen Huu Bang, general director of the Viet Nam Railway Corporation, said his company has asked concerned agencies, including the Ha Noi Passenger Transport Company and the Ha Noi Locomotive Enterprise, to frame charges on personnel directly involved with the accident. A board has also been established to look into all rail accidents in the future.

Speaking at a Sunday working session, secretary of the Thua Thien-Hue Party Committee, Ho Xuan Man, said the Ministry of Transport should revise the train schedule. "Fast trains are only good if railway authorities can ensure safety," he said.

The Ha Noi-HCM City E1 train derailed at 11:50am last Saturday while taking the turn near Da Ban Hamlet in Phu Loc District, 8km from the northern section of the Hai Van Pass. Around 500 passengers and 29 personnel were on the train when the accident occurred.

According to the latest reports, 14 victims have left the Hue Central Hospital and only 18 are under treatment. Another two are under treatment at the Phu Loc District Hospital.

President of the Central Committee of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Pham The Duyet yesterday sent his condolences to the relatives of the victims of the rail tragedy. He praised prompt efforts of the local people and administration in helping the victims of the accident. — VNS

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