Japanese media are reporting that two people are feared dead after an apparent act of self-immolation on a bullet train. "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 spokesperson for Japan Rail told AFP. A man and a woman are dead, with around 20 others injured, NHK reports. TBS has footage of passengers evacuating the smoke-filled carriage.
The high-speed Nozomi shinkansen was traveling between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka on the Tokaido line, and was between Shin-Yokohama and Odawara stations just west of Tokyo when the incident occurred, according to Kyodo News. All bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka have been halted.
Japan's extensive shinkansen network is widely used and incredibly efficient. The Tokaido line is critical to the country's business, linking its two most important cities, Tokyo and Osaka, in just over 150 minutes with several trains an hour. JR's website states that there have been no shinkansen accidents causing fatalities or injuries to passengers since operations began in 1964, and the service operates with an annual average delay of less than a minute per train.