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August 20, 2009

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4 workers die at local rail site in crane slam

FOUR workers were crushed to death and two others were injured yesterday evening after a 10-ton crane crashed into another crane during a heavy rainstorm at a construction site for the Shanghai-Beijing express rail project in Shanghai's Jiading District.

Firefighters who took part in the rescue said the mishap occurred around 6pm near the intersection of Jinshajiang and Xinghua roads. The four workers were pronounced dead at the scene; the others were rushed to a hospital with non-critical injuries, rescuers said.

Colleagues of the victims told Shanghai Daily that there were nearly 300 workers on the project, mostly from Jiangsu Province.

There was no official report from authorities explaining what caused the fatal mishap last night, though construction officials said the storm may have played a part.

Witnesses said the mishap involved two gantry-type cranes. During heavy rain and wind, a 13-meter-tall crane slid 20 meters along its tracks, apparently out of control, and crashed into the driver's compartment of a 16-meter-tall crane, where the six workers were sheltering from the storm. The two who were injured managed to escape the major impact.

The smaller crane toppled after the crash.

Some workers told Shanghai Daily that construction had not been suspended at the time of the accident, even though the site was being buffeted by the wind.

A government team was set up last night to investigate the accident.

The construction site was being run by China Communications Construction Third Harbor Engineering Co Ltd.

The 1,318-kilometer Shanghai-Beijing express railway is expected to become the primary rail artery between the capital city and Shanghai, featuring speeds of 350 kilometers per hour. A trip between Shanghai and Beijing will take only about five hours on the future link.

The project's first phase is scheduled to open next year. The under-construction Hongqiao Integrated Traffic Hub, connected to Hongqiao Airport, will serve as host station for the express railway as well as for future high-speed railways from Shanghai to Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

The Ministry of Railways said earlier that the Shanghai-Beijing line will become the country's first high-speed railway to feature the world's top technologies, services and transportation efficiency.

The railway construction will cost about 220.9 billion yuan (US$32.3 billion), becoming the country's biggest investment in a single construction project. The Ministry of Railways said the project must be completed with state-of-the-art technologies and must have "zero quality flaws."


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