Man sets himself on fire on Japanese bullet train


A man riding a Japanese high-speed bullet train set himself on fire Tuesday, killing himself and another passenger as the coach filled with smoke, a fire official said.

At least 26 other people were injured, three seriously, mostly from smoke inhalation, Odawara Fire Department official Ikutaro Torii said.

The man’s motive wasn’t clear.

The passenger poured an oil-like substance over his head before setting himself on fire, authorities said. Kyodo News service reported that he used a lighter. Officials said the fire was at the front of the first car in the train, which was heading from Tokyo to Osaka.

The train stopped on the outskirts of Odawara city, about 80 kilometers west of Tokyo, when a passenger pressed an emergency button after finding someone collapsed on the floor near a restroom at the back of the first car, a transport ministry official said.

The passenger on the floor, a woman, was later pronounced dead, reportedly from inhaling smoke.

Crew members rushed to extinguish the fire, said Kengo Sasaoka, a spokesman for Central Japan Railway Co., which operates the bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka.

TBS television broadcast a video of passengers evacuating the smoke-filled coach, some coughing, others covering their faces with towels and handkerchiefs.

Bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka was suspended for about two and a half hours while rescue workers helped some of the injured off the train. The train then moved slowly to Odawara station, where about 1,000 passengers got off.

The 16-car bullet train, called the Shinkansen in Japanese, travels the 553 kilometers between Tokyo and Osaka in 2 hours and 33 minutes.

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