Japan bus company in deadly crash ‘violated safety regulations’: local media

TOKYO: A Japanese bus operator whose vehicle plunged off a mountain road, killing 14 people and injuring dozens more, is suspected by officials of violating safety regulations, local media reported Saturday.

Young skiers — many in their teens or early 20s — were asleep on the bus when it careened off the road before dawn in the ski resort town of Karuizawa on Friday, the country’s worst such accident for 25 years.

Twelve students aged between 19 and 22 as well as the driver and a second driver were all killed, and 26 others injured. Police are investigating bus operator ESP and Keyth Tour, a Tokyo travel agency which organised the ski package tour, but authorities have yet to announce the cause of the accident.

Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii Saturday visited the site, from where the wrecked vehicle had already been removed, with the gnarled crash barrier still showing the impact of the collision.

Police suspect the driver lost control as he tried to make a sharp turn after the bus hit the barrier, according to broadcaster NHK. But the Transport Ministry suspects the bus company may have violated safety regulations by failing to give the driver written instructions on what route to take according to the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun newspapers.