Express railway disaster in amagasaki: A review of urban disaster response capacity in Japan

Takashi Nagata, Stephanie N. Rosborough, Michael J. Vanrooyen, Shuichi Kozawa, Takashi Ukai, Shinichi Nakayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: On the morning of 25 April 2005, a Japan Railway express train derailed in an urban area of Amagasaki, Japan. The crash was Japan's worst rail disaster in 40 years.This study chroniclesthe rescue efforts and highlights the capacity of Japan's urban disaster response.Methods: Public reports were gathered from the media, Internet, government, fire department, and railway company. Four key informants, who were close to the disaster response, were interviewed to corroborate publicdata and highlight challenges facing the response.Results: The crash left 107 passengers dead and 549 injured. First responders, most of whom were volunteers, were helpful in the rescue effort, and no lives were lost due to transport delays or faulty triage. Responders criticized an early decision to withdraw rescue efforts, a delay in heliport set-up, the inefficiency of the information and instruction center, and emphasized the need for training in confined space medicine. Communication and chain-of-command problems created confusion at the scene.Conclusions: The urban disaster response to the train crash in Amagasaki was rapid and effective.The KobeEarthquake and other incidents sparked changes that improved disaster preparedness in Amagasaki. However, communication and cooperation among responders were hampered, as in previous disasters, by the lack of a structured command system. Application of an incident command system may improve disaster coordination in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital and disaster medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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