Reports: Olympic Construction Played Role in China Crash News Wire

ZIBO, China – Construction in advance of this summer’s Beijing Olympics is at least partly to blame for a train wreck that killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds more, Chinese officials say.

According to Li Chenggang, Zibo city spokesman, the tracks where the train derailed, are being upgraded in advance of the Olympics. The upgraded line is supposed to reduce travel time between Jinan and Qingdao, a coastal city that is hosting the Olympic sailing competition.

Officials previously said excessive speed could be to blame for the Monday (April 28) train crash. Investigators said train operators were advised prior to the wreck to reduce their speed in this section of the track, according to Chinese media reports.

According to a Xinhua news report, an express train traveling to the east China city of Qingdao from Beijing was traveling 131 kph (81 mph) in an 80 kph (50 mph) zone. The train derailed and crashed into a second train, which was traveling from Yantai in the Shandong province to the Jiangsu province city of Xuzhou, authorities said.

At least three senior railway officials in the Shandong province were fired because of the wreck, said to the the worst in China in more than a decade. It is not clear whether the train engineers survived the wreck.

The wreck is the worst in China since 1997. During the 1997 wreck in the central province of Hunan, more than 100 people were killed, according to media reports.

The Qingdao-Jinan Railway was closed for roughly 20 hours after the derailment.