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Danvers Carew
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Please move this if you can think of a better forum...

This is an 'is this picture real?' query, but it's more a 'does this picture really exist'?

I was reading The Fortean Times Book of Strange Deaths, which features stories printed as true in newspapers around the world, but which it acknowledges is not necessarily the same thing as the events actually happening, and I came across this entry:

quote:
Most ludicrous in its sheer pointlessness is a strange tale from June 1984, when a Chinese newspaper published a photograph of three smiling soldiers posing on a railway track, their backs to a speeding train which killed them a split second later. The paper, Chinese Law, did not explain why the photographer, a fellow soldier who was presumed to have jumped clear in time, failed to warn them of the approaching danger.
This tale was apparently reported in the Guardian 13th June 1984.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any more information - does the photo actually exist, and if so, does it actually depict what the article claims? Is it a doctored photo? Has a true story/debunking of the photo and story ever come about? It's a haunting image, but I've been unable to find anything about this. Just morbidly curious.

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Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Posts: 2372 | From: Scotland | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ronnie Arnold
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Danvers Carew:
Please move this if you can think of a better forum...

This is an 'is this picture real?' query, but it's more a 'does this picture really exist'?

I was reading The Fortean Times Book of Strange Deaths, which features stories printed as true in newspapers around the world, but which it acknowledges is not necessarily the same thing as the events actually happening, and I came across this entry:

quote:
Most ludicrous in its sheer pointlessness is a strange tale from June 1984, when a Chinese newspaper published a photograph of three smiling soldiers posing on a railway track, their backs to a speeding train which killed them a split second later. The paper, Chinese Law, did not explain why the photographer, a fellow soldier who was presumed to have jumped clear in time, failed to warn them of the approaching danger.
This tale was apparently reported in the Guardian 13th June 1984.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any more information - does the photo actually exist, and if so, does it actually depict what the article claims? Is it a doctored photo? Has a true story/debunking of the photo and story ever come about? It's a haunting image, but I've been unable to find anything about this. Just morbidly curious.

Do Chinese trains travel in excess of 761 mph?
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Danvers Carew
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Yes Ronnie, there's a lot to the story that's mysterious/nonsensical. I was just initially wanting to confirm whether such a photo existed or not, before speculating on the unlikeliness of the story - maybe the photo will shed new light. For instance, it's possible the soldiers were fully aware of the approaching train and were planning to get a cool macho photo and jump out of the way at the last minute, but failed (or indeed succeeded - we don't know they necessarily died). Who knows?

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Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Posts: 2372 | From: Scotland | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Driver_8
The Red and the Green Stamps


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A lot of unexpected things can happen on train tracks, almost all of them bad. People often underestimate the speed that a train travels and it can be especially deceiving when it is coming right at you.

When I was working in a rail yard, one of the cardinal rules was that you should never stand on the tracks. Seems like common sense, but every so often, you'd see or hear about somebody who was standing let one sneak up on them.

When there is alot of train traffic in an area, the warning whistles and other train sounds kind of become background noise that is disregarded. I guess that people get desensitized.

From the description of the pic, there are alot of possibilities. The train could have been 'backing up', engine pushing the cars, in which case the warning whistle from the locomotive could have been up to a mile away. If that were the case, at least in the U.S., there would have been additional safety measures taken, but I cannot speak for the seafety guidelines in China.

And I suppose it would be possible that the photographer could have been so involved in trying to line up the shot the he did not realize that the train was there, or that it was that close and moving that fast. That said, if the picture exists, I would be interesting to see.

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Prometheus
Acura-puncture


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Not to automatically dismiss this as a fake (since I have not seen the photo) but what instantly came to my mind was that the photograph could have been staged and the soldiers were safely standing in front of an idle train.
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JFB
Jingle Bell Hock


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Two things to look for:

Exhaust plumes from a diesel, or forceful billowing of steam and smoke from a steam locomotive (used in China into the late 1980s), would indicate throttling.

A debris cloud beneath the train would indicate speed.

Absence of either of these would not rule out movement. Trains do most of their running on momentum, so exhaust isn't always present. Electric trains produce no emissions. A clean right-of-way would preclude the debris cloud.

Without exhaust or debris, the photo alone would be inconclusive. It'd need a verifiable backstory.

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The Phantom Phreak
Deck the Malls


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i have the FT book of 'more strange deaths' and it doesnt seem to have the story in, BUT it does have a reference list in the back, so you may want to check the references for the train story and hopefully it may be a website, which may have the picture [Smile]

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We have just gotten a wake-up call from the Nintendo Generation!

Posts: 225 | From: New York, no grass... | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Danvers Carew
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Phantom: This is in the FT Book of Strange Deaths, and not the subsequent volume More Strange Deaths. The reference section at the back was my first port of call and is where I got the 'Guardian 13 June 1984' from.

I'm not sure if the Guardian actually printed the picture, or if they just reported the tale of the picture.

I was sure there were a few snopesters with easy access to electronic newspaper repositories, and I was hoping they could at least verify whether the Guardian actually printed that story, and whether or not they printed the photo.

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Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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AdmiralDinty
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Damn. Tried to look it up on Lexis-Nexis, but their records for the Guardian only go back to January, 1985 (just six months shy).

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"I wanna bite the hand that feeds me. I wanna bite that hand so badly. I wanna make them wish they'd never seen me." - Elvis Costello

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Danvers Carew
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Anyone happen to know anything else about this? I'll let the thread die a dignified death shortly if no one else can help out, and promise I won't bump this up again if there's no further interest. But any further assistance just now would be greatly appreciated.

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Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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johnm
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I hate to bring this up because it probably just my own stupidity...

I see no links in the origional post to examine.
Am I doing something wrong?

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chillas
Coventry Mall Carol


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quote:
Originally posted by johnm:
I hate to bring this up because it probably just my own stupidity...

I see no links in the origional post to examine.
Am I doing something wrong?

Yes, you're not actually reading the original post.

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Come on, come on - spin a little tighter
Come on, come on - and the world's a little brighter


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johnm
The Red and the Green Stamps


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oh duh!
my mistake

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