Subways and Cover ups

By Bryan • china • 30 Mar 2007

It’s not just mines that collapse in China.

A construction company had tried to cover up a cave-in accident at a subway construction site in which six workers were trapped underground, the Beijing News reported yesterday.

The accident occurred on the No 10 Line of the Beijing subway in the northwestern part of the city at 9:20 am on Wednesday.

The hopes of survival for the six workers are slim, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Instead of reporting the accident right away to work safety authorities, China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co Ltd, a Stated-owned company, organized its own rescue team.

And to keep a tight lid on the news, the management asked all rescue workers to turn in their cellphones and locked the gate of the site, the newspaper said.

Beijing police learnt of the accident from their counterparts in Henan, after a worker native to that province secretly called the police in his hometown using a mobile phone he managed to hide.

I found this interesting given the recent subway explosion in Nanjing. Apparently, a cover-up attempt was also made in regards to this accident. I’m regurgitating some anecdotal info I was told a few weeks ago that I cached away so I’m not 100% certain regarding specifics, but I was told that all large accidents involving government operations much be reported immediately to higher authorities in Beijing, especially those with fatalities, which was the case in Nanjing (although the number of fatalities varies from whom you talk to). Supposedly, Nanjing didn’t tell Beijing for several days, using the delay to develop a spin to their story and establish a scapegoat.

I’m actually rather surprised that a cover-up was even attempted. Mobile phones exist in everyone’s pocket and reception is guaranteed almost everywhere. Ensuring a completely sealed environment is wishful thinking and one would be rather naive to believe that one can control information flow effectively enough to prevent leakage on someone else’s terms. I suppose it’s an issue of face…no one wants to accept blame, and even a day or two delay will buy enough time to develop a story and hopefully pull the blame away from yourself.

Personally, I think this is fantastic. Busted by a lowly construction worker and his mobile phone.

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