• Kyodo


The Hyogo Prefectural Police on Thursday turned over to prosecutors cases of professional negligence against a former head of the Akashi Police Station and 11 others over the deaths of 11 people after a fireworks show in Akashi.

In addition to the 11 deaths, 247 people were injured July 21 when a crush of fireworks gazers flocked to the nearest train station after the show and created a bottleneck with the crowd that viewed the display from the overpass.

Besides the former Akashi Police Station chief, Hiroshi Nagata, 59, the others include four police officers, six municipal officials and Keiichiro Nitta, the 60-year-old former head of the Osaka branch of Nisikan Co., a Fukuoka-based private security firm contracted to maintain order at the event.

Also Thursday, 10 police officials, including Nagata, were reprimanded in connection with the accident. Nagata, who was suspended for one month, submitted his resignation.

Investigators said they determined that local police, the security company and the city, which organized the event, neglected their duty to prevent accidents from the preparatory stage up until right before the incident occurred. Negligence by the three parties all contributed to the tragedy, they alleged.

According to investigations, those named were all aware of the possibility of a massive crush on the overpass but drew up poor crowd control plans and failed to assign enough officers to watch over the event.

Some 150,000 people were expected to attend the show. Given that the overpass was a prime location to see the fireworks and that one side of the structure was narrower than the other, the dangers were foreseeable, police said.

They also failed to take steps to direct people away from the overpass once they saw that the huge crowd was not moving, believing that the crowds would subside in time, police said.

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