TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) – An express train and a truck collided in Japan’s second-largest city of Yokohama on Thursday (Sept 5), train operator Keikyu Corp said, with fire officials confirming that one person was killed and about 30 people were injured.
The collision on a key rail link to Tokyo, the capital, smashed the glass in the driver’s compartment and derailed at least the first three carriages of the eight-carriage train, video images showed, as rescuers surrounded the site.
"It's confirmed that (a train) made contact with a truck," Keikyu spokesman Takuro Sekine told AFP.
“The sound of glass breaking was incredible,” one passenger told national broadcaster NHK. “By the time I knew what had happened, the carriage was all smashed up.”
The truck driver was severely hurt, but the injuries to the passengers and driver of the train did not immediately appear to be serious, NHK added.
According to the Keikyu train company operating the service, the driver said he had applied the emergency brake but too late to prevent the collision. The company said it had launched an investigation into the accident that took place just before noon.
“The maximum speed there is set at 120km per hour and we believe the train was travelling as fast as that,” a Keikyu spokesman, who declined to be named, told AFP.
“There is an abnormality detection system there for emergencies and cases such as a truck getting stuck on the crossing. This system kicked in and an alarm signal was flickering,” added this spokesman.
Earlier, black smoke billowed from parts of the derailed train and the truck, which was crushed between the train and a wall, while smashed boxes and what appeared to be oranges littered the tracks.
Images of people evacuating the train, a twisted electrical pole and train seats covered with broken glass figured in video posted on social media by shaken passengers.
Japanese trains have a well-deserved reputation for safety and punctuality and accidents are rare.
Earlier this year, 14 people suffered light injuries when a driverless train in suburban Tokyo went the wrong way and smashed into the buffers.
In April 2005, a speeding commuter train near Osaka jumped the tracks on a tight bend during the morning rush hour and smashed into an apartment tower. The driver and 106 passengers were killed and more than 550 people were injured.
The crash was Japan’s worst rail disaster since 1963 when 161 people died in Yokohama after a freight train collided with a truck and was then hit by two passenger trains.
Japan’s deadliest-ever train accident was in February 1947 when a passenger train derailed near Tokyo, killing 184 people and injuring nearly 500.