Chemical leak on Japan bullet train leaves 4 injured

Four passengers, including a child, suffered burns and light injuries aboard a shinkansen bullet train in northeastern Japan on Monday after a chemical liquid belonging to a passenger leaked accidentally, local police said.

The owner, who was among the injured on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line train, is a 40-year-old employee of a geological survey company based in Tokyo. The police believe the industrial chemical used in his profession was kept in a bottle in his hand luggage and accidentally spilled.

Passengers were evacuated from the train onto the platform of JR Sendai Station in Miyagi Prefecture, East Japan Railway Co. said, after a smoke-like haze was detected from one of the carriages during a crew inspection. The inspection was prompted by a rider’s emergency call around noon about a child suffering burns from what seemed like a chemical substance.

According to the police, the employee who resides in Tokyo was told by a rider nearby that liquid was seeping from his bag that he had placed near his feet.

As he headed with his bag to the deck, a 5-year-old boy slipped on the liquid. The man and the boy’s parents who ran to their child’s aid suffered burns around their legs and other areas.

Two others, a female passenger in her 30s and a male station worker, felt unwell, possibly from inhalation of vapor that emanated from the spill, authorities said. No lives are in danger, they added.

A 48-year-old male rider waiting for the train recounted hearing a station crew member cried out “Smoke from the No. 7 carriage!” Approaching the scene, he observed what seemed like a black bag emitting smoke near the carriage doors.

Sirens from emergency vehicles filled the air at the station, which was crowded with tourists and shoppers taking advantage of the last day of a three-day weekend.

“It reminded me of the Tokyo subway sarin attack. It’s frightening because you can bring anything onto a train,” said a 52-year-old man, referring to the 1995 terrorist attack that killed 14 people and injured over 6,000.

By Perviz Iqbal