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UPDATE1: Police raid bus firm in connection with fatal highway accident.

MAEBASHI, Japan, April 30 Kyodo


Police searched a bus company and its president's home in Chiba Prefecture on Monday in connection with a bus crash the previous day in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, which killed seven passengers and injured the remaining 38, three of them critically.

The police searched the office of the bus operator Rikuentai in Inzai in the eastern prefecture and the home of its president, Yumihide Haryu, 55, located at the premises of the company, on suspicion of negligent vehicle driving resulting in death and injury, they said.

The bus, which left Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, around 10 p.m. Saturday, the first day of Japan's Golden Week spring holiday season, crashed into a 3-meter-high roadside wall in the 4:40 a.m. accident on the Kanetsu Expressway in Fujioka, the police and bus operator said.

The police have confiscated the operator's daily operation report and working regulations to determine whether the accident was due to overwork, as the 43-year-old driver, Kazan Kono, who was also seriously injured and was hospitalized, told police that he dozed off at the time of the crash, while there was no backup driver aboard the overnight bus bound for Tokyo Disneyland.

The police also conducted a detailed inspection of the bus wreckage, while the transport ministry also sent its officials to search the firm and a tour operator which solicited the passengers for the bus tour.

The police have obtained an arrest warrant for the driver and plan to arrest him after his recovery on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in death and injury.

The police have identified all seven victims in what is the deadliest single-vehicle highway accident in the country's history, according to the National Police Agency.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Apr 30, 2012
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