Two dead in Japan bullet train self-immolation

Man dies after setting himself ablaze on train, also killing female passenger and injuring several others

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Two people on a Japanese bullet train died after one of them set himself on fire during the journey on Tuesday.

Media reports said the Shinkansen bullet train was on its way from Tokyo to Osaka with around 1,000 passengers on board when it made an emergency stop.

One of its carriages was filled with smoke, and fire officials said the cause of the smoke was a fire started by a man who had poured oil over himself and set himself ablaze in an apparent suicide.

"We have been informed that there was a passenger in a car on the train who covered him or herself with oil and set it on fire," a spokesman for operator JR Tokai (Central Japan Railway Company) told AFP.

Several others were injured because of smoke inhalation, two of them in serious condition. Japanese state broadcaster NHK TV said one female passenger also died.

"We received information indicating that a fire broke out near a toilet and two people were in cardiopulmonary arrest," a spokesman for Odawara Fire Department said.

The passengers were evacuated from the train, NHK said. Footage of the incident shows passengers evacuating with handkerchiefs pressed to their faces, and at least one clutching a baby to her chest.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set up a task force after the incident, AFP reported.

Japan's Shinkansen trains have a good safety record and travel at speeds of up to 320km/h. An average of more than 400,000 passengers use the service daily, and no one has been killed in a crash in its half century of service.

TRTWorld and agencies