Victims of Amagasaki train derailment honored

Kyodo

A memorial ceremony was held Thursday for the 107 people killed in the horrific train derailment in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture in 2005, marking the eighth anniversary of the accident.

At 9:18 a.m., the time at which the train jumped the tracks, the victims’ families, survivors and officials of West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) observed a moment of silence at a public hall about 2 km from the accident site.

The driver and 106 passengers were killed and 562 people injured when the speeding train derailed on a curve on JR West’s Fukuchiyama Line and rammed into the corner of a condominium complex.

“We deeply apologize from the bottom of our hearts for what happened. Every one of them was taking steps toward the future in their important lives,” JR West President Seiji Manabe said. “There is no end to our efforts to ensure safety. We will keep making continuous efforts.”

While a representative of the families delivered a speech on every anniversary through 2011, for the second year running no representative spoke at this year’s ceremony because “no one offered to do so,” JR West said.

Three former JR West presidents have been put on trial for allegedly neglecting their duties and failing to act to prevent the accident. Court-appointed lawyers working as prosecutors sought three-year prison terms for them in March, and a ruling is expected this autumn.