Wenzhou Train Crash Families Paid Off by Authorities

By Chen Yilian, Epoch Times
July 29, 2011 10:57 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:04 pm
Family members grieve after identifying a loved one's body. (STR/AFP Getty Images)
Family members grieve after identifying a loved one's body. (STR/AFP Getty Images)

The compensation agreement offered to families of victims of July 23’s Chinese bullet train collision by the Ministry of Railways has raised eyebrows. In exchange for the payment, the families must cremate the victims as soon as possible. And the agreement includes a “bonus” for quick cremation, which has inevitably been viewed as a means of trying to stem more negative fallout.

The Ministry of Railways stipulated that the families who accept the negotiation and sign the agreement shortly after the crash could receive an amount in the tens of thousands of yuan as a cash bonus.

So when a family member of Lin Yan, a victim of the crash, for example, signed an agreement with the Steering Committee of the Incident Management Task Force at 1:00 a.m. on July 26, she received 500,000 yuan (US$77,600): 450,000 yuan (US$69,840) was compensation, while 50,000 yuan (US$7,760) was a bonus for signing the agreement soon after the incident.

Family members that accept financial compensation are also reported to be signing away their rights to pursue legal action against the authorities in the future.

After hearing about this, Shu Kexin, of the Chinese People’s University Public Policy Research Center, commented in his blog that using the term “bonus” gives the impression that the authorities are eager to finalize the incident quickly, with minimal fuss, and that they don’t care about the families.

A resident of Wenzhou City surnamed Cheng told The Epoch Times that this incident should be dealt with from a humanitarian perspective. He said: “Urging the families of the victims to sign the agreement as soon as possible is trying to smooth over the incident, so as not to make things worse. However, family affection is priceless, and it is meaningless no matter how much money is paid, as loved ones can never come back. Being a third party, I think the amount of the compensation, 500,000 yuan, is way too low.”

The family member of another victim named Li Jianzhong, 44, concurred: “Now that the identity of the victims has been confirmed, I wonder why the authorities do not allow the families of the victims to claim the remains. That’s the first thing that should be dealt with. Now that they are dead, the amount of compensation is of secondary importance.”

The handling of the disaster has faced much similar criticism. People wonder why the wrecked cars, along with victims’ remains, were buried so quickly and why names of the victims were not released promptly—and have still not been released. Though it had been announced that there were no signs of life in the fallen cars, an injured child was later rescued.

Another contested issue is why the Railway Ministry, who is responsible for the accident, should be allowed to conduct its own investigation; many are now calling for an independent investigation.

Read the original Chinese article.

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