National

Families and survivors mark anniversary of 2005 Amagasaki derailment that killed 107

Kyodo

Some 500 survivors and family members of victims of a 2005 train derailment that killed 107 people gathered Thursday to mark the 14th anniversary of the crash at a ceremony, which was held for the first time at a newly built memorial facility.

West Japan Railway Co. hosted the ceremony in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, with the company’s president vowing to prevent a similar accident from ever occurring again.

“We have renewed our determination that each one of our employees will create a safe and secure railway,” President Tatsuo Kijima said.

“It is our most important mission not to forget the accident, to keep in mind the regrets and lessons learned and to continue to be a safe railway operator in the future,” the president said, noting that nearly half of JR West’s 27,000 employees joined the company after the incident.

On April 25, 2005, a rush-hour commuter train on the Fukuchiyama Line derailed after entering a curved section of the track when traveling well in excess of its maximum permitted speed.

It crashed into a condominium building at 9:18 a.m., killing 106 passengers and the driver, and injuring 562 people.

JR West has built a memorial facility at the accident site where visitors can pray for the dead. It has preserved part of the now-vacant condominium building and covered the location with a roof. The monument put up by the company bears the names of the victims.

The facility opened to the public in September last year.

“The monument we had been waiting for is completed,” said Yuriko Saito, 76, who lost her 37-year-old son, Mitsuru, in the crash, referring to a cenotaph erected by the railway operator. “I suppose you’ve felt lonely for these 14 long years,” she continued, addressing her late son. “Please watch over the safety (of train operations) and rest in peace.”

Until last year, JR West held annual memorial services at a community center in Amagasaki.