TOKYO (AFP) – The death toll in Japan’s worst bus crash in 25 years has risen to 15, police said on Tuesday (January 19), as they scramble to determine why the vehicle swerved from a mountain road it wasn’t meant to be on.
The passengers, mostly young skiers – many of whom were teenagers or in their early twenties – were sleeping on the bus as it pulled off the road before dawn on Friday January 15 in the northwestern resort of Karuizawa. from Tokyo.
Fourteen people were killed and dozens injured the day after the accident. The toll worsened on Monday January 18 with the death of a 21-year-old university student, a local police spokesperson told AFP.
Japan has suffered a series of high-profile bus crashes, some caused by drivers falling asleep while driving, although the condition of the 65-year-old bus driver at the time of the last crash remains unknown.
He and the deputy bus driver were among the dead. Weather conditions are not considered a factor.
Rules governing the working conditions of late and long-distance truck drivers were tightened after an April 2012 accident that killed seven people.
This vehicle struck a highway wall after its driver dozed off while driving. Many of his passengers were on their way to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort.
Japan has an extensive and well-maintained road network throughout its mountainous terrain, but the operating company admitted after the crash that the bus was supposed to be on a highway as it headed to a ski resort. .
Japanese media have speculated that intense price competition between tour operators and bus companies could have led to drastic cuts, for example by trying to save highway tolls by taking an unapproved route.
Japan’s Transport Ministry will conduct unannounced emergency audits of bus companies across the country this week, Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii told reporters on Tuesday (January 19th).