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China high-speed railway section collapses after heavy rains

China Daily via Reuters

Excavators repaired the Hanyi High-speed Railway section that collapsed in Qianjiang, China, Monday.

SHANGHAI — A section of an unopened high-speed railway has collapsed in central China’s Hubei province after heavy rains, officials said Monday, renewing safety concerns prompted by a fatal crash last year.

Hundreds of workers have been sent to repair the 984-foot roadbed after the Friday collapse in Qianjiang city, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing local authorities. The section, which had undergone test runs, is part of a line due to open in May.

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Shares of China Railway Construction Corp., which built the section, and China Railway Group Ltd. plunged in Hong Kong trading on speculation the collapse may deter the government from pushing ahead with a $443 billion building plan. Construction was slowed last year after 40 people were killed in a high-speed crash in July.

The failed line is part of the 181-mile long Hanyi High-Speed Railway, linking the provincial capital Wuhan and Yichang city, according to Xinhua.

The owner of the line, Hu Han Rong Railway Hubei Co., denied the collapse, according to cnhubei.com, a state-backed local news portal.

China Gezhouba on March 3 said the quality of its work on the Hanyi railway is good.

China last year fired rail officials after parts of a construction project in northeastern Jilin province were illegally subcontracted to unqualified builders including a former cook, who used shoddy materials, officials said.

“These are systematic problems,’’ said Vivian Liu, a Shanghai-based analyst with Sinopac Securities Asia. “The regulatory inspections are nowhere near enough.’’

The railway ministry and the government information office in Wuhan had no comment.

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