Japan train death toll climbs to 103
Rescue teams on their hands and knees worked their way into the most mangled pieces of Japan's massive train wreck in a last-ditch hope to find survivors as the death toll rose to 103.
After a third grisly night of work in the twisted steel of Japan's worst rail crash in four decades, rescuers began to enter the most devastated section of the train, which smashed into an apartment building in the western city of Amagasaki.
"We are continuing our rescue operations. There are still people unaccounted for inside the trains," said a police spokesman in Amagasaki, where more than 450 people were injured in the crash.
Among the people unaccounted for is the driver of the train that plunged into an apartment building on a commuter route. Media reports have said electromagnetic equipment failed to detect any heartbeats in the debris.
There have been repeated allegations that 23-year-old driver Ryujiro Takami, who had only 11 months experience, had been speeding after falling a minute and a half late due to overrunning a station.
Even though rescue operations were still underway, government investigators are inspecting the debris to figure out why the train, filled with Monday-morning commuters and students, skidded off the tracks.
Japanese trains are famous for running to the second and Takami had been reprimanded last June for missing another station.
Train operator West Japan Railway Co., which was privatized last year, reported Wednesday that it had made profit in the fiscal year to March 2005 but was losing 25 million to 30 million yen (236,000 dollars to 283,000 dollars) a day since the crash in lost business.
Thirteen executives at JR West decided to forego their customary bonuses for the current fiscal year.