According to reports, a mobile phone battery pack fire was the cause of the incident.
Tokyo’s Yamanote line service was temporarily suspended this afternoon, after staff were alerted to a problem on one of the line’s Shibuya-bound trains on the approach to Shinagawa Station. According to eyewitness reports, one of the train carriages had filled with white smoke after a passenger’s mobile phone battery pack caught fire, prompting one of the passengers to press the emergency call button on board.
Commuters inside the train at the time of the incident say the phone was thrown to the floor after it caught alight, where it was doused with bottled water from a fellow passenger, which extinguished the flame. A number of photos posted to Twitter by passengers on the train showed the blackened and burnt battery pack shortly after the incident.
【悲報】山手線火事で止まる… 充電器燃えて電車内が煙で一杯になる https://t.co/s71PbxRTiZ—
帰ってきたへどさん (@hedmaru) December 04, 2016
Thankfully the train wasn’t far from Shinagawa Station when the incident occurred at approximately 12:50 p.m., which allowed rail staff to evacuate the train at the platform and inspect the smoke-filled carriage.
▼ According to this eyewitness, who posted these photos to Twitter at 12:57 p.m., the fire occurred inside the fifth carriage of the train.
山手線の五号車。 まだ再開まで時間かかりそう。 https://t.co/wqbbIlRyhA—
❄Ксения❄⛸ (@YuriOnIce_yurio) December 04, 2016
While the fire had been contained, passengers commented that the strong, chemical smell of the smoke was intense.
山手線でモバイルバッテリーが燃えてめっちゃ臭い 電車動かない https://t.co/kX1qaA0RfG—
南 結城 (みなみ ゆうき) (@zn1121_bbo) December 04, 2016
▼ The smoke had also spread to the next carriage on the train.
隣の車両から発煙したっぽい。 煙臭くて白くもやがかかった感じになってる。なんか化学物質的な臭い。 #品川駅 #山手線 https://t.co/S0EEKjkMuP—
春華 (@choco422) December 04, 2016
According to East Japan Railway Company, the train was immediately sent to JR East’s railway vehicle base, while passengers were transferred to a subsequent train at Shinagawa Station. Following the accident, the Yamanote line service was suspended for approximately ten minutes, with no injuries reported.
A bulletin by NHK, the country’s national broadcaster, has announced that Tokyo Metropolitan Police are now looking into details regarding the foreign-made external battery pack to prevent an incident like this from happening again.