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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 09:37 GMT
Workers die in China rail tragedy
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A high-speed passenger train has hit a group of railway workers in eastern China, killing 18 of them.

Officials said a maintenance crew turned up early for track replacement work - before an order for trains to slow down had taken effect.

The accident happened in the eastern province of Shandong on Wednesday. Officials did not explain why it took two days for the news to emerge.

More than 100,000 people die each year in work-related accidents in China.

Analysts say this train crash once again draws attention to the country's abysmal safety record.

State-run media said the train had been travelling at 120 km/h (74mph) through the city of Weifang when it hit the workers.

Nine others were hurt in the accident.

A spokesman for the firm employing the workers blamed bad weather for the slow reporting of the accident.

"It's snowing heavily in the area and traffic and telecommunications are very bad," a spokesman told AFP news agency.

The train was travelling on the high-speed line from Beijing to the port city of Qingdao, where Olympic sailing events will be held later this year.

The accident came as China gears up for the New Year holidays, when millions of people will be travelling to across the country.

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