NIIGATA – A 7-year-old girl was found dead after being hit by a train in central Japan, authorities said Tuesday, with police investigating the incident as a possible murder due to the victim’s body showing signs of having been strangled.
The young girl, identified as Tamaki Omomo, was a second-grade elementary school student in the city of Niigata and had been missing since Monday evening, investigative sources said.
Bruises on her face suggested the possibility that she was strangled sometime before being hit by the train on Monday night in Niigata Prefecture, police said.
According to authorities, Omomo was hit by the train at around 10:30 p.m. on Monday. The train driver reported having seen someone laying near the railroad tracks before the impact.
“I applied the brakes after I saw a person laying near the rail track, but I didn’t make it,” the driver was quoted as saying by national broadcaster NHK.
According to NHK, Omomo had left her school shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday but she didn’t return home. At around 5 p.m. on Monday, her parents reported to police that she was missing.
The spot where she was found is only about 500 meters north of her school.
NHK quoted the school principal as saying teachers were not aware of her being involved in any difficulties. Omomo had arrived at the school as usual on Monday, the principal was quoted as saying.
Local police set up a special investigation office on Tuesday and continued their examination of the spot where Omomo was found together with results of an autopsy.
“At night only local people walk through this place. This is a quiet residential area, and I often see children — they often walk here,” a 70-year-old woman was quoted as saying by NHK.
“My heart aches,” she added.
The railway has only a single track at the location where Omomo was found. According to East Japan Railway Co., trains pass the spot every 10 minutes around the time when the incident occurred.