Source Pravda.Ru

Japan train derailment: 4 dead

An express train travelling through strong winter winds derailed in northern Japan on Sunday, killing four people and injuring 33.A man - believed to be the last one inside - was found dead early on Monday, a Yamagata prefectural police spokesman said.Five of the six carriage express train derailed on Sunday evening, and three of the carriages toppled onto their sides in Yamagata prefecture, 180 miles north of Tokyo.

The injuries of the survivors taken to hospitals did not appear to be life-threatening, said another Yamagata police spokesman, Yoshikatsu Oe. Most of the injured passengers were riding in the first two carriages.

Rescuers planned to lift the wreckage to see if any survivors remained beneath it. It was unclear how many passengers had been on the train; one official said it was 30, but the tally of the injured and trapped indicated more.

The police spokesman said all passengers in the first carriage - which smashed into a nearby pig pen and buckled in the middle - had died. Transport Ministry official Ryotaro Miyamoto said four accident investigators were heading to the site, and more experts were to be dispatched later. He said the cause of the accident was not immediately known.

The president of rail operator JR East, Mutsutake Otsuka, apologised for the accident at a news conference and promised a thorough investigation.

Yamagata police official Yasuhiro Sugiu said there had been high-speed wind warnings for the area. Public broadcaster NHK quoted the train's conductor as saying the wind was very strong just before the accident, and Kyodo News agency reported that winds over 40 miles an hour were registered near the site of the crash.

JR spokesman Jun Kubota said the train was already more than an hour behind schedule when it left the previous stop, Sakata, due to bad weather. Its crew reported a gust hit the train, and lights inside the cars went off before the derailment.

The train was reportedly travelling up to 62 mph just before the derailment. Kubota said the speed limit in the area is set at 74 mph, and the train was not required to slow down, despite the weather conditions, reports the AP. I.L.

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