Chinese bullet train derails, 32 killed

Emergency workers and others work to free passengers from the wreckage of a train after two carriages from a high-speed train derailed and fell off a bridge, in Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang province Saturday, July 23, 2011.
AP Photo

Last Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

BEIJING — China's state media is reporting that at least 32 people were killed when a Chinese high-speed bullet train lost power after being struck by lightning and was hit from behind by another train.

The official Xinhua News Agency said two of the bullet train's cars were knocked off a bridge in the collision that occurred Saturday night in Wenzhou city.

Before raising the death toll, Chinese state media had reported that 89 people were injured in the collision. No new figure for the number of injured was available.

The Xinhua News Agency says four cars on the second train also derailed, but it did not say how serious that was.

The news agency says one carriage from the first train fell about 65 to 100 feet.

Pictures on the Internet show one badly damaged car lying on its side by the bridge and the second car leaning against the bridge after landing on its end.

China has spent billions and plans more massive spending to link the country with a high-speed rail network. Recently, power outages and other malfunctions have plagued the showcase new high-speed line between Beijing and Shanghai since it opened last month.

The train that crashed was a "D" train, which was the first generation bullet train with an average speed of about 95 miles per hour and not as fast at the Beijing-Shanghai line that opened June 30.

Official plans call for China's bullet train network to expand to 8,000 miles of track this year and 10,000 miles by 2020.

The huge spending connected with the rail expansion also has been blamed for corruption, and Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was dismissed this spring amid an investigation into unspecified corruption allegations.

No details have been released about the allegations against him, but news reports say they include kickbacks, bribes, illegal contracts and sexual liaisons.