April 28, NY Times

BEIJING — A predawn collision between two passenger trains in Eastern China on Monday has killed at least 66 people and injured 247, according to Xinhua, the state news agency, making it one of the deadliest rail accidents in recent years.

The two trains, one heading from Beijing to Qingdao and the other traveling between Yantai and Xuzhou, collided at 4:40 a.m. in the town of Zibo, Shandong Province.

Witnesses said one train derailed at a bend and then struck the other, throwing at least ten cars into a ditch. Wire reports quoted a rail official saying that a new timetable introduced on Monday might have contributed to the crash.

Last September, a collision involving two trains took place on the same line, although there were no deaths. In January, 18 track workers were killed on the Beijing-Qingdao route after they were struck by a train traveling 75 m.p.h. in the dark.

Chinese newspapers frequently report railway fatalities, although most of them involve small numbers of deaths from collisions between trains and vehicles at track crossings.

China has one of the world’s most heavily used rail systems. In recent years, at least $100 billion has been spent on improvements and expanded service.

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photo: Rescuers work at the site where two trains collided in east China's Shandong province (Fan Changguo/Xinhua, via Reuters)