December 25, 2005

Japan train crash kills three, one person trapped

TOKYO (Reuters) - Rescue workers were battling strong winds
on Monday to try to extract a person trapped for more than 12
hours in the wreckage of a train that derailed in a snowstorm
in northern Japan, killing three people and injuring 33.

The train, which was running behind schedule, is believed
to have left the tracks after encountering high winds as it
crossed a bridge over a river in Yamagata prefecture on Sunday.

Several carriages of the six-car express train crashed into
a farm building, media reports said.

"It felt as though the train was blown into the air by the
strong wind," Kyodo news quoted the driver as telling police.

The trapped passenger was believed to be unconscious, media
reports said, but further details were not known.

The train, operated by East Japan Railway Co., was
traveling to Niigata from Akita.

It was carrying 44 passengers and had a crew of two.

Wide areas of Japan have been hit by the heaviest snowfall
on record for December in recent days, disrupting transport and
causing several deaths. Accompanying strong winds have also cut
power lines, leading to blackouts in some areas.

Tokyo has been spared, but more snow was forecast for parts
of northern Japan on Monday.

Japan's worst train crash in more than 40 years killed 107
people in Amagasaki, western Japan, in April this year.