Minivan rams into pedestrians in Japan; 8 killed
TOKYO — A minivan ran through a crowded intersection and struck pedestrians in the western Japanese city of Kyoto on Thursday, killing eight people including the vehicle’s driver, and injuring another eight.
Rescue officials and witnesses said the minivan ignored a traffic light and entered a main intersection in Gion, Kyoto’s main geisha district, knocking over pedestrians and smashing into an electric pole before stopping.
The area was packed with tourists and cherry blossom viewers.
TV footage showed pools of blood and belongings scattered on the ground as paramedics treated those less seriously injured.
The 30-year-old driver and seven pedestrians died, Kyoto prefectural police spokesman Akira Koga said. Eight other people were injured, including several in serious condition. The driver was the only one in the van, Koga said, correcting an earlier report by rescue officials who apparently mistook a pedestrian as a passenger.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Public broadcaster NHK quoted the driver’s sister as saying that he had an epilepsy-like illness. It was not immediately known whether the claimed illness could be linked to the accident.
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