Japan Railways’ high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains have, since their inception, been famous for their timely arrivals and paramount safety. But that record was marred today by a self-immolation suicide that claimed the lives of two people on board a train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka.

According to various news sources, a fire broke out on the Nozomi 225 Shinkansen heading from Tokyo to Osaka at around 11:30 this morning.

Reports indicate that a man doused himself with what investigators believe was some sort of oil and then set himself on fire. The man died as result, despite the flames quickly being extinguished by the train crew, according to Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK. The train remained stopped in Odawara, Kanawaga for several hours.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the man, who was in the first train car, pouring a liquid of some sort on himself before using a lighter to ignite the fuel.

▼ Scenes from inside the train

A woman who was on board the train during the incident was found near the toilet between the first and second cars. She was initially reported to be in cardiac arrest but was later declared dead. According to the Chunichi Shinbun, an explosion was heard from the same toilet just moments before the woman was found. Odawara firefighters believe that the woman was in her 50s, but she has yet to be formally identified.

NHK has also indicated that four people suffered severe injuries from smoke inhalation, and another seven suffered light injuries. A further nine people have been taken to hospital.

▼ An FNN report on the shocking events.

NHK has quoted a second woman, who was travelling in the car in which the incident took place.

“The man approached where I was sitting and said, ‘I just picked this up, so you can have it,’ and put several 1,000-yen bills on the seat-back table. ‘I don’t want it,’ I told him, and the man started walking aimlessly down the aisle, pouring out what looked like oil. I told him to stop, and he said, ‘You’re in danger, too, so get away,’ and I ran to the back of the train. In that time, the man set himself on fire.”

All trains between Osaka and Tokyo were stopped following the occurrence of the incident, but service was resumed after 2 o’clock this afternoon. The Nozomi 225 arrived at Odawara Station at around 3pm where roughly 800 passengers alighted.

The man’s identity and the reason for his self-immolation are still unknown, but an investigation is underway.

Sources: NHKChunichi Shinbun, TBS, Gigazine
Image: Wikipedia (Mitsuki-2368)