Accident in China kills 21 railway workers

BEIJING - At least 21 railway workers were killed when a vehicle transporting them to work overturned early on Saturday in north-west China, state media reported.

Seven people were injured in the accident that occurred as the workers were being taken to a railway construction site in Lintao county, Gansu province, Xinhua news agency said.

It was unclear how many workers were riding in the vehicle when it overturned, the report said.

Earlier this month, China's railways ministry ordered delays to ongoing rail projects following a deadly high-speed accident between two bullet trains in July that left at least 40 people dead and nearly 200 injured.

According to Xinhua, the railway workers killed Saturday were working at a site on the Lanzhou-Chongqing line, but the report did not say if the line was a high speed railway.

China has developed its vast transport network at breakneck speed, building the world's largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade.

But the government has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop, most notably after the July high-speed rail crash near the eastern city of Wenzhou and a metro collision in Shanghai in September that injured nearly 300.

In the weeks following the July crash, the government announced a halt to new train projects.

In February, rail minister Liu Zhijun, who had pushed forward the building of the high-speed rail system, was sacked and placed under investigation for graft, state press reports said.