Japan: Train Collision

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Nando Times

Train collision in northwest Japan kills 1

The Associated Press

TOKYO (December 17, 2000 9:00 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Two single-car trains hit head on Sunday in northwestern Japan, killing one of the drivers and injuring 26, officials said.

One of the trains reported brake trouble before it shot past a station where it was scheduled to stop and rammed into a train coming in on the same track, said Fukui Prefectural police official Kazuya Shimizu.

The driver of the train with brake problems, Tadao Sasaki, 57, was killed in the crash 190 miles northwest of Tokyo. Two of the injured passengers were seriously hurt, officials said.

A total of 35 passengers were aboard the trains, both operated by Keifuku Railway Co.

They did not derail, but the drivers' compartments of both were heavily damaged.

Shimizu said the exact cause of the collision was not immediately known.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), December 17, 2000



Sunday December 17 4:36 AM ET One Dead, 26 Hurt in Japanese Train Collision

By Jon Herskovitz

TOKYO (Reuters) - One driver was killed and 26 people were injured after two, single-carriage local trains collided head-on near a small town on the Sea of Japan coast on Sunday.

The other driver sustained serious injuries when the two trains carrying a total of 35 passengers collided at about 1:30 p.m. (0430 GMT) in Matsuoka, Fukui Prefecture, around 350 km (220 miles) west of Tokyo.

Police said initial reports indicated that 27 people were injured, but the 57-year-old driver of one of the two small trains was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

The trains did not derail but television footage of the accident showed the driver's compartments of both trains had caved in after the accident and windows were smashed on both trains.

``All the passengers fell on top of each other and there was a lot of smoke after the accident,'' one passenger told national broadcaster NHK.

``We have not released anything official concerning the cause of the accident but we are checking to see if the brakes on both trains were working properly,'' an official of train operator, Keifuku Electric Railroad Co, told Reuters.

The railway was investigating if one of the trains failed to halt at a stop signal because of possible brake trouble.

The accident was the first fatal collision for the railway that has been in operation since 1942.

It was also Japan's first fatal train accident since last March when five people were killed after a Tokyo subway train ripped away the side of a carriage in an oncoming train that had derailed in its path during rush hour. The accident injured 33 people.

Japan's railways, famed for running the ``shinkansen'' -- or bullet train -- have a very good safety record as they shuttle tens of millions of people every day.

One of the worst train crashes in recent history took place in 1991 in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture in which 42 people were killed and more than 600 injured.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), December 17, 2000.

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