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Two killed in self-immolation on high-speed Japanese train

Two people have been killed and many others injured after a passenger set himself alight on one of Japan's superfast "bullet" trains. The motive for the man's action was not immediately clear.

Japanese media reported that a man set himself ablaze on a moving Shinkansen bullet train that was on its way from Tokyo to Osaka at around midday local time on Tuesday.

The driver of the train made an emergency stop shortly after hearing an explosion from a toilet stall in the first carriage of the train near Odawara station, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of the Japanese capital.

"We have been informed that there was a passenger in a car on the train who covered him or herself with oil and set it on fire," a spokesman for the Central Japan Railway company told the AFP news agency.

Officials later confirmed that the passenger in question was a man and that he had died of injuries sustained in the self-immolation. A woman was also killed in the incident, while around 20 others were injured, including several who were in serious condition. Many of the injured were being treated for smoke inhalation.

An estimated 400,000 passengers travel daily on Japan's "bullet" trains, which connect Tokyo with the western commercial hub of Osaka and travel speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour.

pfd/kms (AFP, dpa, AP)