Heavy rains collapse section of Hubei high-speed railway line

By Elaine Kurtenbach ,AP

SHANGHAI — Part of a high-speed railway line that had already undergone test runs collapsed in central China following heavy rains, state media reported Monday, jolting railroad shares and reviving worries over safety. The official Xinhua News Agency and other reports said a 300-meter (984 feet) section of the railway line had collapsed, but mentioned no casualties or other details. It said hundreds of workers were rushing to repair the line between the Yangtze River cities of Wuhan and Yichang. The reports of the accident Friday near Qianjiang city in Hubei province, the latest since a bullet-train crash last summer that killed 40 people, rattled share markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai, where major railway company stocks dropped on the news. China Railway Construction Corp. dropped 6.6 percent, China Railway Group Ltd. fell 5.7 percent to HK$2.82 and China Southern Rail lost 4.4 percent. All are traded in Hong Kong. China has massive resources and considerable prestige invested in its showcase high-speed railways program, and the news appeared to raise sensitivities over the issue. A local government website ran an article denying that any collapse had occurred.

An officer who answered the phone Monday in the information office of the China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co., which is in charge of the project, said he had not heard about the collapse and said no other officials were available for comment. The official refused to give his name or title. Officials in the Hubei province and Qianjiang city information offices were also not available for comment. The Railways Ministry did not immediately respond to inquiries by phone.