National

12 injured after minibus slides down mountain slope in Gunma without driver

Kyodo

Twelve people were injured Friday in Gunma Prefecture when their minibus slid 20 meters down a mountain slope while the driver was outside, police said.

The bus was carrying a group of middle-aged trekkers who had come to the area to climb Mount Eboshidake. Police initially said four people had been seriously injured and 10 had sustained light injuries but later corrected the numbers to two and 10, respectively.

After stopping in a parking lot at the entrance to the mountain trail in the village of Nanmoku, however, the bus started moving at around 2:50 p.m. while the driver was outside and the vehicle apparently went off the road, the police said.

The police arrested the 66-year-old driver, Isao Ebihara, on suspicion of professional negligence. The driver said he left the bus in neutral and might have failed to pull the parking brake fully, police said.

Mount Eboshidake is popular around this time of year, when its azaleas are in full bloom.

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