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China to increase compensation for train crash victims

HONG KONG, July 29 (Yonhap) -- China will increase compensation for each victim of the recent high-speed train crash in an attempt to soothe the pain of the bereaved families, a state-run news outlet said Friday.

The train crash took place late Saturday near the city of Wenzhou in East Zhejiang Province when a high-speed train rear-ended another train, leaving at least 40 people dead and 192 others injured.

A Chinese-language report by Xinhua News Agency said China's Ministry of Railways will pay 910,000 yuan (US$141,378) in compensation for each victim of the crash, citing an official in charge of the compensation deal.

The railway accident came at a time when China was showing its aspirations to become a major exporter of high-speed rail technology, while pouring hundreds of billions of yuan into expanding its high-speed rail network.

On June 30, the country launched a 1,318-kilometer-long Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, which has already experienced a number of delays caused by electrical breakdowns and power failure.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited the train crash scene on Thursday, promised an open and transparent investigation, and emphasized safety must be the priority when developing railways.

"Since the accident, questions have been raised over the cause and handling of the incident. Public opinion must be listened to.

We must give responsible answers to all the questions raised," he said.

"There is a principle. We have to program scientifically, arrange rationally and develop in an orderly way. Faster is not always better. We should combine speed with quality, efficiency and safety, and always put safety first."

The Chinese government's investigation team will publish its findings by the middle of September, government officials said.

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