Rescuers search for survivors of Japan rail disaster

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Rescuers working with cranes and heavy equipment at the scene of Japan's worst rail accident in forty years pulled 3 survivors and more bodies out of the wreckage of a packed commuter train that derailed on Monday. The crash is now claiming 95 lives and over 400 injuries. Hopes are fading for more survivors in the rail car search where it is thought a dozen bodies may yet remain.

The train crashed into the side of a nine-story apartment building located nearby a bend where it jumped the track. Relatives of those lost are arriving in Amagasaki to identify loved ones in a gymnasium where a makeshift morgue is located.

Police searching for the cause of yesterday’s disaster investigated eight offices of West Japan Railway Co on Tuesday for clues to the rail driver. Police conducting the probe said professional negligence may be involved. The train operator, who in the past received a warning for a similar incident, over-shot the stop at the previous station and had to back the train up nearly 40 m (130 feet).

It is unclear whether the inexperienced driver of the train survived, 23-year-old Ryujiro Takami with 11 months on the job.

Running late and traveling at what survivors thought was excessive speed, it is believed the train lost control at a bend in the track where 71 km/h (44 mph) was the speed limit; however, any speeds under 134 km/h (83 mph) should not have caused derailment.

The train and aircraft disaster research committee, which reports to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, began to research the disaster. The committee members revealed unofficially the physical reasons of the disaster are quite complexe A member of the committee says the speed of train was monitored and at the fifth train it was recoreded that this car had run at 108 km/h speed in a certain moment after emergency brake had worked.

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