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AN express train derailed overnight in northern Japan, killing two people and injuring more than two dozen others, officials said.
Strong winter winds were reportedly suspected as a cause.
Police said up to three more people were still believed trapped in the wreckage, but their conditions were unknown.
Five cars of the six-car express train derailed and three of the cars toppled onto their sides in Yamagata prefecture (state) about 290km north of Tokyo, officials said.
Yamagata police spokesman Ryoichi Omi said two women died of their injuries.
Another Yamagata police spokesman Yoshikatsu Oe said 29 others were injured, and more were believed to be still trapped.
The injuries of the survivors outside the wreckage did not appear to be life-threatening, but it was not known whether those trapped inside were still alive, Mr Oe said.
Most of the injured passengers were on the first two cars. It was unclear how many passengers were on the train; one official said it was 30, but the tally of the injured and trapped indicated it was more.
Transport Ministry official Hiromi Mishima said the cause of the accident was not immediately known, and officials are still trying to assess the extent of the damage.
Yamagata police official Yasuhiro Sugiu, however, said there had been high-speed wind warnings for the area. NHK quoted a train conductor as saying a strong wind hit the train just before the accident.
Japan in recent days has suffered from unusually heavy snowfall, and blizzards have led to the deaths of eight people, but snow did not appear to be a factor in the crash.
NHK footage of the wreckage site showed the train derailed in a rural area, but there were only patches of snow on the ground.
The train was en route from northern Akita prefecture to Niigata prefecture when it went off the tracks.
A train derailment on April 25 in Amagasaki, western Japan, killed 107 people and injured more than 500 others. It was Japan's worst train wreck since 1963.
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