Shaoxing native Yang Feng (杨峰), who lost five members of his family in the Wenzhou high-speed rail crash, has won much sympathy and support for boldly railing against the Ministry of Railways in front of television cameras.
The man lost his 29-year-old wife, Chen Bi, who was seven-months pregnant, his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a 3-year-old nephew. They were travelling in a group to Wenzhou in Carriage 16 of the ill-fated D3115 service. Yang’s father-in-law, who was traveling with the group, survived the crash because he was walking along the aisle elsewhere on the train when the D301, came crashing into its rear.
Yang lost no time from the moment he heard about the crash at 9pm that fateful Saturday. He set off in his car from Shaoxing and drove all the way to Wenzhou. The journey wasn’t easy. In his own words, he had to cross the fields, go up the mountains, down the byways, and plead to be allowed through two police checkpoints. By the time he found the crash site, it was already 1am.
“I climbed into the train wreck myself,” he told Hong Kong media, “and I saw hands and legs, but there was no one to help them.” Firefighters on site told him that they didn’t have the required machinery, that there weren’t any signs of life anymore (!!!) and that clearing would begin from around 5am. “When Carriage 16 was moved from the track onto the ground, there was zero concern for the people inside,” said Yang.
“My wife was disfigured beyond recognition and my sister-in-law lost half of her head… They started clearing away the trash while people were still inside! Are people less important than trash? Why did the firefighters disappear as soon as the guys from the Ministry of Railways arrived? Are lives more important or the repair of the rail network?”
Brushing aside the apology of the Ministry of Railways, Yang said, “People have died, and if you think just a simple bow and an apology is going to solve problems, then I believe we are going to see a lot more accidents in China. You can kowtow or sack people, but my wife and mother-in-law are never going to come back!”
Then, in a cryptic message that appeared on his Sina Weibo account two evenings ago, Yang appeared to have made a complete about face. He said, in the post, which has since been retweeted 55,000 times:
“It’s not just 5 people but 40 people that are looking down on me from heaven. But I have no more strength in me anymore. Please forgive me. If I continue to persist, I may lose my sixth family member. Sorry everyone, I’m selfish.”
Some people wondered if this meant Yang, or his afore-mentioned sixth family member, was under a murder threat. Yang clarified that there was no such threat, nor was he under the pressure of any government authority. All he wanted to do, he said, was to be in a position to take care of his final family member. “I don’t want him to die lonely. I just want him to be happy for the rest of his life,” said Yang.
Others wondered out loud if Yang had already been paid a handsome amount to keep his mouth shut. Yang replied, rather adamantly, that compensation had so far not been raised in his discussions with government officials. Neither he nor his family was in need of money, and he isn’t the sort of person to bow to money or power, he said.
All he wanted to do now, was to take care of his family’s funeral matters, and to ensure that his wife and unborn child go to heaven “in one piece”, with her face restored as far as possible. After the cremation, he would bring her ashes back with him to Shaoxing to be placed in a joint tomb, where he hoped to be reunited with her after he passed away.
In addition, he has promised to his wife that if he should ever be remarried and father a child again, his first child would take her surname Chen, and s/he would be named Chen Yang (陈洋), in memory of the unborn child, which they had earlier decided to name Yang Yang (杨洋).