No fewer than two persons were reported dead and scores injured as a man set himself ablaze aboard a bullet train on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 .
The train which was travelling on a high speed was forced to make an emergency stop southwest of Tokyo just before noon.
Sources from the police and fire fighters said that a man doused himself in an oily substance which he was carrying in a plastic canister and subsequently used a lighter to set himself ablaze.
Rescue officials also confirmed that out of the 800 passengers on board, 26 people were also injured in the blaze, with two described by firefighters as being in a “critical condition.”
Police said that the train’s driver made an emergency stop between southwest Tokyo near the coastal city of Odawawa in Kanagawa Prefecture after a loud blast was heard coming from a toilet stall.
Smoke quickly filled the front car of the train, forcing passengers to the rear, some on their hands and knees holding handkerchiefs to their mouths because of the smoke and fumes.
They added that it was in fact the train’s crew members including the driver of the train that extinguished the man’s still burning body as the train’s rescue alarm sounded, alerting other passengers to escape.
Rescue officials also said they found the dead body of a lady in her 50s who had collapsed between cars No. 1 and 2, although it was unclear whether she had died of smoke inhalation, asphyxiation or a cardiac arrest.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident and believe that the man who self-immolated was a 71-year-old from Suginami Ward in Tokyo.
Before dousing himself in what was described by eyewitnesses as an orange-looking liquid believed to be some form of oil, the man attempted to give at least one passenger, a 1,000 yen bill while telling them to escape to the back of the train.
One woman was quoted by local media as saying that as soon as she declined to accept the money he doused himself with the accelerant and set himself on fire.
As she fled to the rear of the train, she said the man was fully ablaze as she glanced back before fleeing the car.
According to World Wide Weird News, police said the motive behind the man’s suicide and arson attack was not immediately clear, although some observers were quick to note that the latest self-immolation cases in Japan were politically motivated.
Japan’s Shinkansens are known for their speed, safety, cleanliness and precision punctuality.
The Tokaido Shinkansen line links Tokyo and Osaka in two hours and 25 minutes with Nozomi trains along this line hitting top speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour on a particular stretch between Shin-Osaka and Hakata.