About 200 passengers were on board when the discovery was made.

At around 2:10 p.m. on 14 June, the Nozomi No. 176 Superexpress Shinkansen headed to Tokyo from Hakata made a regular stop at Kokura Station in Kyushu’s northernmost city of Kitakyushu, where a large crack on its bonnet was discovered.

Despite the damage, the train continued on its journey, travelling over the Kanmon Strait to the main island of Honshu, where the vehicle underwent a more thorough inspection at Shin-Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture. This is when staff discovered part of a human body wedged inside the damaged section of the train.

Trains running both ways on the Sanyo Shinkansen line between Hiroshima and Hakata were immediately cancelled for the day, causing extensive delays to other services, including the Kyushu Shinkansen and the Tokaido Shinkansen. None of the 200 passengers or crewmembers onboard the damaged 16-car Nozomi Shinkansen were injured.

▼ News reports showed the damaged train at Shin-Shimonoseki Station after the incident.

According to West Japan Rail, no abnormality other than exterior damage was apparent at Kokura Station, which is why the driver continued to the mainland. Following the grim discovery, however, officials believe that the train came into contact with a person who entered the tracks inside a tunnel between Hakata and Kokura stations in Fukuoka Prefecture. Fukuoka Prefectural Police later confirmed that multiple human body parts were found near the Ishisaka tunnel in the prefecture’s Yahata Nishi Ward.

An initial investigation into the incident revealed that the driver had heard a strange noise at the time, but continued without making a report. Furthermore, the station attendant at Kokura Station checked on the safety of the passengers, but was unaware of any damage to the train.

A spokesperson for JR West said that the driver had experienced hitting a small animal in the past, and made the decision not to stop as there was no threat to passenger safety. The driver assumed this was another such incident, and therefore did not think it was necessary to stop for safety reasons.

The spokesperson told local media that the train should have been stopped and inspected, and said that they will ensure staff are properly instructed so correct measures can be followed in future.

Source: Yahoo News, Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Flickr/Ankur P