Japan road accident leaves eight dead

Eight people died when an apparently epileptic driver crashed his minivan into a crowd of pedestrians in Japan's temple-spotted ancient capital of Kyoto, officials and reports said on Thursday.

Driver Shingo Fujisaki, 30, was killed after his vehicle ran a red light and ploughed into pedestrians on the street before smashing into a telephone pole in the tourist district of Gion, a spokesman for Kyoto prefectural police told AFP.

Seven of 16 pedestrians who were injured also died, he said.

A Kyoto city fire department official earlier said a total of 14 people including the driver of the minivan were hospitalised, of whom six suffered cardiac arrest.

Fujisaki's family told local media that he had suffered from epilepsy and occasionally fitted.

In December an epileptic crane driver who killed six children when he crashed during a fit was jailed by a Japanese court for seven years after the judge found he had not taken anti-seizure medication.

With its stunning ancient temples and historic streets on which geisha can still be seen, Kyoto is a favourite stop for foreign visitors to Japan.

Press reports said the area was full of people at the time of the accident, many of whom were there to see cherry blossom trees in bloom.

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