The 4.25 Anchu Traffic Accident
(Southern Metropolis Daily) May 7, 2009.
(Southern Metropolis Daily) May 7, 2009
On April 25, Xinhua released the news that "at 6:40am, there was a big traffic accident at the 127th kilometer mark of the Kunchu Highway with 18 deaths and 22 injuries."
The report also mentioned that about five hours before the accident (that is, around 1am that monring), a coal-hauling truck had an accident near the Kongjiazhuang tunnel entrance of the Kunchu Highway with no casualties. The report said that the "police and highway administration workers set up warning cones five hundred meters away from the scene of that first accident." At 6:40am, the second accident occurred because a passenger bus slowed down at the cones but a trailing watermelon-hauling truck rammed the bus from behind, causing both vehicles to veer off the highway.
At around 4:00pm on April 25 (more than 4 hours after the Xinhua report was published), a Kunming netizen commented that "the traffic police went too far." According to this commentator, "At around 1am, my car passed by the scene of the first accident. There were no indications anywhere. I only saw it when my car got near that heap. My car was traveling at 110 kilometers/hour and it was too late to brake by the time that I saw it. My car went right over the sandpile and flew into the air. The passengers who were sleeping in the car were all scared awake." He said that he called 110 (note: the police) and the two telephone numbers given for the highway emergency help. "I assumed that someone would deal with the matter, but I did not imagine that the tragedy would still occur."
According to the Yunnan Information News, a minivan driver said that he got into an accident just after 2am when he tried to avoid debris in the road. He said that he called the Kunchu Expressway patrol policemen, but he received no help. As a result, he witnessed the accident that occurred at 6:40am. "Five hours after the Yunnan E08934 cargo truck got into an accident, the debris which occupied half of the roadway was still not cleared off. Is this the main reason for this latter accident?"
Faced with these questions, the Traffic Police Bureau replied that the watermelon-hauling truck could not brake quickly enough because it was carrying excessive weight and therefore tragically collided with the passenger bus. The traffic police claimed that they had received a report about an accident at 1:12am. At 1:15am, the militia police arrived at the scene and then reported to the highway administration. The traffic police placed traffic cones about 500 meters before the scene of the accident in order to re-direct the vehicular traffic. "This procedure is consistent with how such matters should be handled." "In dealing with traffic accidents, if the militia police do not have the means to clear the debris, it is acceptable to post warning signs and traffic cones."
"It was dark at night. There were also more cargo trucks and passenger buses at night than daytime. When a tow truck takes up the roadway without adequate protective measures, it may cause inestimable traffic accidents. Therefore, the traffic police placed reflective traffic cones around the scene of the accident to get the cars to reduce their speed when they approach."
But the explanation by the Traffic Police Bureau did not stop the discussions. On April 29, at the Jinbifang Forum of Yunnan Net, the netizen "zhijiansha" made the post <If there weren't conflict of interests, the 22 lives would not have been lost>. "Ever since the Anchu Expressway went into operation, a certain repair garage in Chuxiong held close ties with the Anchu Expressway Traffic Police and handled all accidents. All accidents -- no matter whether it is involves one or more parties, or a car stalling, or car damage -- are handled by this special partner."
"If it were not for a conflict of interests, this accident was totally avoidable. After the first accident, the Highway Administration and the insurance company could have gotten the relevant departments to clear the debris and ensures that the road was completely open. The second accident would not have happened."
"zhijiasha" made a second post on May 4 with 10 photos from the scene. "If the Anchu Expressway Traffic Police used its own Dongfang 153 vehicle, the coal-hauling truck would have been towed away in an hour. Please also note that the Anchu Expressway Traffic Police squad has the even more efficient Steyr Double Bridge vehicle which can take away a fully loaded truck."
"zhijiasha" said that after making the first post, he began to receive threatening telephone calls and was even asked by the relevant department to "have coffee." It was this second post that created an opinion storm among the local netizens.
On May 5, the day after "zhijiasha" made this second post, the local Yunnan forums featured posts entitled <Does that Yunnan bureau dare to invite 22 dead people to "have coffee"?> and <The 4.25 major traffic accident: Yunnan wants to play "elude the cat" again>. Among the posters are three well-known forum webmasters who were previously involved in the "Elude the Cat" investigation.
Another local netizen reported: "As of May 4, the story within the Internet community is that a certain government bureau wants 'zhijiasha's post deleted."
This reporter learned from the webmasters at various Yunnan forums that there was "an informal notice to delete the post" at a QQ group which had forum webmasters and local publicity department workers."
Apart from the request to delete the post, another webmaster noticed that "as of yesterday, there were many newly registered users who are counter-attacking repeatedly the posts that criticized that 'certain bureau.' These newly registered users come from various areas in Yunnan."
"Actually, the original post by 'zhijiasha' did not create much impact. It was the unofficial request from the relevant department for us to delete that is causing resentment."
As for yesterday, this reporter noticed that many websites outside Yunnan province (such as Sina.com) have removed the post from 'zhijiasha.' However, many local Yunnan forums have collectively refused to delete that post and comments are continuing to come in.
Yesterday morning, the Jinbifang Forum where 'zhijiasha's post first appeared announced: "Due to the spate of key incidents, there have been many netizens making irresponsible comments as guests. We are forced to temporarily ban guests from making comments."