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A crowded commuter train derailed and smashed into a block of flats in western Japan today
A crowded commuter train derailed and smashed into a block of flats in western Japan today, killing at least 37 people and injuring 200 others. The cause was under investigation amid fears that the death toll could rise. The seven-carriage commuter train was carrying 580 passengers when it jumped the tracks, wrecking a car in its path before slamming into the nine-storey complex just yards away. One of the cars was flattened against the wall of the building and hundreds of rescue workers and police swarmed the wreckage and tended to the injured. The cause of the crash in an urban area near Amagasaki, about 250 miles west of Tokyo, was not immediately known, but survivors said excessive speed may have been a factor. Attention focused on the inexperienced, 23-year-old driver, who overshot the stop line at the last station before the accident, reports the Scotsman. According to the USA Today, an official with the Hyogo state police said at least 37 people were killed and that some 200 were injured. It was not clear how many of the dead were passengers of if bystanders and apartment residents were among the victims. The accident was one of the worst rail disasters in recent memory in Japan, which is home to one of the world's most complex and heavily traveled rail networks. Four people were killed and 33 were injured in March 2000 when a Tokyo subway hit a derailed train. "There are many theories but we don't know for sure what caused the accident," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said. "The prime minister instructed us to respond with urgency." The train operator, Japan Railway Co., apologized
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