TOKYO -- An express train traveling through strong winter winds derailed in northern Japan, killing four people and injuring more than 30, officials said today.
Five wagons from the six-car express train derailed last evening, three toppling onto their sides in Yamagata prefecture, about 180 miles north of Tokyo, officials said. The train was going from northern Akita to Niigata prefecture.
The survivors' injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, Yamagata police spokesman Yoshikatsu Oe said. It was unclear how many passengers were on the train, but Oe said most of the injured were in the first two cars.
The dead included two men and two women, officials said. One of the men was pulled from the wreckage early today and was believed to be the last body on the train, a Yamagata police official said on condition of anonymity, citing departmental policy.
Rescuers planned to lift the wreckage to see whether any other passengers remained beneath.
Transport Ministry official Hiromi Mishima said it was not known what caused the derailment and officials were assessing the extent of the damage. Mutsutake Otsuka, president of railway operator JR East Co., apologized for the accident at a news conference this morning and promised a thorough investigation.