National

Two picnickers killed, five injured by electric fence in Shizuoka

Kyodo

Police began an investigation Monday into the cause of an accident the previous day in Shizuoka Prefecture that left two men dead and five women and children injured after making contact with an electric fence protecting flower beds from wild animals.

The two dead were identified as Masatomo Ozaki, 42, of Kawasaki, and Tomohiro Iwamura, 47, of Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, the police said.

Iwamura’s wife, Takako, 42, and son Kaio, 8, were severely injured, while Ozaki’s wife, Yuka, 43, and son Raiku, 8, suffered slight injuries.

The two families were having a picnic in the town of Nishi-Izu at the time of the accident.

Sumie Yamamoto, 75, a local resident who tried to help them, also suffered a minor injury.

The 1-meter-high wire fence was set up on a riverside by local residents to guard a bed of hydrangea flowers from wild deer. Part of the fence was damaged and a piece of wire was in the water.

At around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Ozaki and the two boys were heard screaming while playing in the river. Ozaki’s wife and the two adult Iwamuras, as well as Yamamoto were also electrified after entering the water to save the three.

The fence carried an electrical charge of 100 volts, according to the police. They will investigate whether appropriate safety measures were in place as government regulations require the installation of an earth leakage breaker around electric fences carrying charges of 30 volts or more.

The accident took place about 25 km southeast of Shuzenji Station on the Izu Hakone Railway. It was not raining at the time of the accident.

“I found two adult men laid in the river with arms and legs outstretched, and the children were screaming,” said Junko Yamamoto, who lives in the neighborhood.

According to the Nishi-Izu Municipal Government, numerous landowners in the area use electric fences to keep wild animals such as deer and boars off their plots.

“Local people will never approach the fences because of the danger,” Junko Yamamoto said.

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