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13 April


Yokohama tragedy: 33 injured and dead driver

The truck driver was on an unfamiliar stretch of road on rails, after which he could not escape from a collision with a train

Photo: Kyodo

/NOVOSTIVL/ The driver of a delivery truck that got stuck on a railway crossing and was hit by a commuter train in Yokohama near Tokyo appears to have approached the crossing from a road he was unfamiliar with in a deviation from his normal route, police said Friday. This article appeared in the Kyodo News.

The police searched the truck operator, a transport company in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, over the Thursday accident that left its driver dead and caused the eight-car express train on the Keikyu Line to derail, injuring 35 people. The police revised the number of the injured up from 33.

The driver, Michio Motohashi, 67, apparently struggled to make a right turn to enter the crossing from a narrow side road, with video footage taken by a security camera near the site showing him repeatedly turning the steering wheel of the 12-meter-long truck and moving forward and backward, train operator Keikyu Corp. said.

A crossing bar hit the back of his truck as he was struggling to make the turn, but Motohashi continued onto the crossing and became trapped on the tracks, Keikyu said.

The transport company to which he belonged said Motohashi was bringing fruits from Yokohama to Narita but that the side road was not a part of the route the company had instructed him to take.

The train operator had initially sought to normalize services by the Friday evening rush-hour period, but the removal of the carriages is requiring more time than expected.

The express train from Aoto in Tokyo to Misakiguchi in Kanagawa Prefecture was carrying about 500 passengers at the time of the accident. The truck caught fire after the collision.

The police said they are continuing to analyze camera footage shot around the time near the crossing to determine the truck's movements.