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Report pins blame for deadly crash on design flaws, managerial errors

A long-awaited government report said design flaws and sloppy management caused a bullet train crash in July that killed 40 people and triggered a public outcry over the dangers of China's showcase transportation system.

A former railway minister was among 54 officials found responsible for the crash, a Cabinet statement said Wednesday. Several were ordered dismissed from Communist Party posts, but there was no word of possible criminal penalties.

The crash report was highly anticipated. The disaster near the southern city of Wenzhou also injured 177 people and triggered criticism over the high cost and dangers of the bullet train system.

Regulations had required the report to be released by Nov. 20. When that date passed, the government offered little explanation, drawing renewed criticism by state media, which have been unusually skeptical about the handling of the accident and the investigation.

The Cabinet statement cited "serious design flaws and major safety risks" and what it said was a string of errors in equipment procurement and management. It also criticized the Railways Ministry's rescue efforts.

The report confirmed earlier government statements that a lightning strike caused one bullet train to stall and then a sensor failure. The report said mistakes by train controllers allowed a second train to keep moving on the same track and slam into it.

Those singled out for blame included former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun, a bullet train booster who was detained in February during a graft investigation and the general manager of the company that manufactured the sensor, who died of a heart attack while talking to investigators in August.