Kyoto van crash leaves eight dead


Eight people have died after a van ran through a crowded junction and struck pedestrians in the western Japanese city of Kyoto today.

The driver was among the dead and another eight people were injured.

Rescue officials and witnesses said the driver ignored a traffic light in Gion, Kyoto's main geisha district, knocking over pedestrians and smashing into an electric pole before stopping.

The area was packed with tourists.

TV footage showed pools of blood and belongings scattered on the ground as paramedics treated those less seriously injured.

The 30-year-old driver was the only one in the van, despite an earlier report by rescue officials who apparently mistook a pedestrian as a passenger.

Public broadcaster NHK quoted the driver's sister as saying that he had an epilepsy-like illness. It was not immediately known whether the claimed illness could be linked to the accident.