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73 Dead, Over 400 Injured in Japan's Train Crash

The train derailment on Monday in west Japan has produced a death toll of 73, and left more than 400 injured, as rescuers continued desperately the work on Tuesday to search and save possible survivors trapped in the badly deformed front carriage.

Four survivors were saved from the wreckage of the first car in the overnight rescue operation, but other passengers remain trapped.

The cause of the derailment has yet to be determined. The initial reports said the train hit a car and derailed. Other versions included speeding and running over a stone on the track.

The seven-carriage train with about 580 passengers aboard tumbled out of the track Monday morning at a curve. It was one and half minutes behind schedule when setting out from the previous station because it overran the platform and had to back up. The 23-year-old train driver, 11 months on the job, overshot a station stop by 100 meters last June, the reports quoted West Japan Railway Co.-- the operator -- as saying. He did not respond to two calls from the control center after leaving the station. Rescuers have yet to locate the whereabouts of the train driver.

The company has also said there is a high possibility that a stone might have been placed on the track as the sign of crushed stone were found.

Five of the cars derailed and the first two cars grisly mangled after ramming into an apartment building nearby.

The death toll made itself the most serious in Japan since May 14, 1991, when 42 were killed and 527 injured in a collision of two trains in west Japan.

(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2005)

FM's Condolences After Japanese Train Crash
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