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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Japan train crash toll tops 100
As wreckage was cleared away the front car became visible

Rescue workers have retrieved more bodies from the wreckage of a Japanese commuter train, which crashed on Monday, bringing the death toll to 104.

One of the bodies was confirmed to be that of the train's 23-year-old driver, Ryujiro Takami.

Investigators estimate the train was travelling at more than 100km/h (62mph) when it slammed into an apartment block in the western city of Amagasaki.

The front carriage is still embedded in a car park under the block.

"It's been compressed into half its size so we can't see the inside at all, but we think there are 10 or so people still inside," a local fire department official told Reuters.


"Unfortunately, we cannot detect any vital signs."

Rescue workers have been using high-tech sensor equipment to listen for heartbeats or breathing, but no-one has been found alive in the wreckage since early on Tuesday morning when three survivors were discovered and safely removed.

About 450 people were also injured in the incident, which is Japan's worst since a train collision killed 161 people near Tokyo in 1963.

A data recorder recovered at the crash site confirmed witness reports that the train was travelling above the speed limit as it rounded a bend.

The device recorded a speed of 100km/h (62mph) - well above the 70km/h limit for the curve where the accident occurred.

Stones on the rails have also been suggested as a possible factor in the crash.

JAPAN'S RAIL SAFETY RECORD
1963: Freight train crashes into derailed Tokyo commuter train, 161 killed
April 1991 - 42 killed when two trains collide near Shigaraki
March 2000 - Tokyo underground train crashes into derailed train, killing five
April 2005 - Crash near Osaka kills at least 89

On Tuesday police searched the offices of West Japan Railway, the train operator involved, for possible evidence of negligence.

Investigators said the driver, Ryujiro Takami, may have been trying to make up time after overrunning a station platform earlier.

West Japan Railway has confirmed that the train was running late.

Doubts over driver

Mr Takami was relatively inexperienced and had only been in the job for 11 months, the company said.

It also reported that he had previously been reprimanded twice in his previous job as a conductor, and once last year as a driver for a platform overrun.

The crash has prompted questions about Japan's railway system, which handles 60 million passenger journeys every day and which has been regarded as one of the world's safest.

JAPAN RAIL CRASH
1: Crash happened at 0020GMT at end of morning rush-hour
2: Seven-carriage train had 580 people aboard
3: Four of the carriages derailed (one not visible)




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why recovering the driver's body has taken so long



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