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Another China Rail Accident…Another Cover-Up?

A crash on Shanghai’s metro system injures 260 just two months after a deadly high-speed rail line collision and subsequent cover-up sparked national outrage. And scant TV coverage again.

Crash victims leaving the scene
Crash victims leaving the scene

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES

SHANGHAI - A crash this week on the city's Metro Line 10, which caused 260 injuries, has sparked a chilling bout of local and national déjà vu two months after a deadly accident on a new high-speed rail line near Shanghai.

The first indication is that Tuesday afternoon's crash occurred after the metro system staff had switched to manual scheduling following a signal failure. Luckily the train had been running at low speed following several hold-ups between stations. Though 30 of the injured are in intensive care, including several with brain injuries, the toll could have been much worse if the train was traveling at normal speed.

On July 23, two high-speed rail trains collided near Shanghai causing 40 deaths and more than 200 injuries. As the public continues to wait for the findings of an investigation into that crash, this week's metro accident has incited renewed public outcry about China's public transport safety. Add to that another case this month of three Chinese railway staff accused of beating a passenger to death.

"We should all be wearing helmets from now on when taking trains," quipped writer Liu Hongbo, while another commentator, Zu Chong, asked "Whether when we leave home each morning means a farewell?"

Chen Qiwei, spokesman of Shanghai's municipal government, said an investigation team composed of experts will look into the metro system's technical and managerial aspects and produce a report. Mr. Chen promised an open and transparent follow-up.

Still, the prime time news network CCTV, the mouth piece of Chinese Communist Party, did not even mention a word about the metro crash in their 7:00 PM News Network broadcast.

The Chinese government seems to be responding to this accident in the same manner as was seen in the fatal July accident, when it tried to cover up the news as well as rushing to halt the search and rescue work for the victims.

This has aroused another wave of public anger and harsh criticism. Liu Hongbo pointed out that at the origin of the endless accidents on China's rail system is the transport officials' common disdain of life, as well as "regarding people merely as the source of the operation's profit."

Some have also pointed out that the two apologies issued Tuesday night by Shenton Group, Shanghai subway's operator, have since been pulled from its website.

Read coverage in E.O. in Chinese

Photo - Youtube

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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