10 Deadliest Roller Coaster Accidents

Fujin Raijin II, Expoland, 2007
A broken wheel axle resulted in one fatality at Expoland in 2007. Chris Gladis/Flickr/Used Under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 License

May 5, 2007, was Children's Day in Japan, but no one was celebrating after a roller coaster accident left one dead and 19 injured in Osaka. The incident occurred on the Fujin Raijin II ride at Expoland, an amusement park first built for the International Exposition in 1970. The coaster's design required riders to stand throughout the 0.65-mile (1,050-meter) course, where the six-car trains reached speeds as high as 47 miles per hour (75 kilometers per hour) [source: The Japan Times].

Everything seemed normal when 20 passengers got on the Fujin Raijin II in the early afternoon. The ride was more than halfway over when, suddenly, the second car derailed and tilted dramatically to the left toward the guardrail. That proved fatal for one young woman, who struck her head on the railing as the coaster roared down the tracks. And so it continued, making a horrible scraping sound before finally coming to a rest some 328 yards (300 meters) later.

According to Expoland's operator, a broken wheel axle was responsible for the tragic accident. The problem might have been caught during the ride's annual maintenance, but these repairs didn't happen in 2007: The park claimed it didn't have enough workspace to disassemble and inspect the cars. Expoland closed in 2009, 1.6 billion yen in the hole, thanks in large part to declining ticket sales in the wake of the coaster disaster [source: Japan Economic Newswire].