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Government must respond to emergencies | Updated: 2013-02-05 20:42

A traffic accident on the expressway linking Lianyungang city in Jiangsu province and Horgos, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has led to a "secondary disaster" because of failings in the initial investigation into the cause of the accident and excessive publicity regarding rescue work carried out by local officials, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

When an accident happens and lives are lost, officials should have real empathy for the victims' families and put themselves in their position. If officials are overly eager to brag about how well they handled the accident, or even claim the accident has nothing to do with construction quality, it will be impossible to satisfy the demands for information and the emotional needs of the public, and will also bring about negative speculation.

Lessons from previous accidents have taught us that it is not only a mistake, and a source of public anger, to hastily jump to quick conclusions, but also to bury the truth. Doing so will eventually severely harm the government's credibility.

The more complicated and unimaginable an accident is the more we need solid information — such as authoritative information about casualties. The public wants the cause of the accident to be identified. What is crucial during the investigation is whether the conclusion stands the test of history as well as public questioning.

How the government responds to emergencies reflects the value they place on the people.

If the government genuinely sees the people as its priority, it must better understand the peoples concerns and confront their responsibilities in relation to accidents. The government must release relevant information in a timely manner, as well as learn lessons to avoid repetition of similar tragedies.

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