Japanese Train Passengers Hospitalized After Bad Odor
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) _ At least 29 people were taken to hospitals Wednesday after complaining of stinging eyes and bad odors in train and subway stations in Yokohama, a crowded commercial port city adjacent to Tokyo.
Japan has been jittery since a poison gas attack on Tokyo’s subways last month killed 12 people and sickened 5,500.
Police and firefighters said other people also were complaining of dizziness and nausea.
Defense Agency officials said a military poison gas warfare unit was being sent to the area.
NHK, Japan’s public television network, showed police in gas masks searching sections of the station.
It said there were no reports of people losing consciousness, and those hospitalized appeared lucid.
A passenger, Kisuke Anamo, told NHK that he suddenly felt a stinging feeling in his throat and then started coughing when he was walking in an underground passageway in the station.
Other people also began coughing at about the same time, he said.
``I still feel dizzy and sick,″ he said.
The scene at the station was pandemonium. Thousands of people were crowded onto sidewalks and streets outside the station. Sirens wailed.
Officials said 45 emergency vehicles were at the station, and at least 10 helicopters circled overhead.
A train where some passengers complained of illness was being inspected, but otherwise train service had resumed, officials said.
Kyodo News Service said a white liquid was found in a corridor inside the station.
National Public Safety Commission chief Hiromu Nonaka told reporters that the air smelled like sulfuric acid.
On March 20, unknown assailants released a nerve gas, sarin, on five subway trains in Tokyo during morning rush hour.
No one has been directly charged in that attack. A religious cult, Aum Shinri Kyo, became the chief suspect after police found tons of dangerous chemicals at its facilities. Police said they also found signs that the cult was involved in research on biological and other weapons.
The cult has denied any involvement. Its leader, Shoko Asahara, had predicted that something terrible would happen in Tokyo last Saturday. Police mobilized more than 10,000 officers to guard downtown areas on that day and nothing occurred.
On March 5, shortly before the Tokyo subway attack, more than 10 passengers were taken to a hospital in Yokohama after they inhaled mysterious fumes in a train car and complained of eye and respiratory pain. The source of the fumes was never found.