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Expoland to close 21 months after fatal roller coaster disaster+
[February 10, 2009]

Expoland to close 21 months after fatal roller coaster disaster+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) OSAKA, Feb. 10_(Kyodo) _ The Expoland amusement park in Osaka Prefecture said Tuesday it will end its 37-year history in large debts due to a decline in the number of visitors following a fatal roller coaster accident in May 2007.

On Monday, Expoland made the decision at a board meeting and filed for a court decision seeking declaration of the company's bankruptcy, the firm's officials said.

Expoland has already told its 26-member workforce they will be dismissed, the officials said.

Expoland President Tadakazu Shimizu told reporters Tuesday he has found it difficult to continue the park's business, and reiterated his apology over the roller coaster accident that left one person dead and injured many others.

In late October 2008, Expoland filed for bankruptcy protection with the Osaka District Court, leaving debts of about 1.6 billion yen.

It has since made efforts to seek a corporate supporter to help its rehabilitation.

After three months of closure following the roller coaster accident, the amusement park reopened in August 2007 but closed again last December because of a sharp decline in the number of visitors.

The roller coaster accident took place at the amusement park located in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on May 5, 2007, when the Fujin Raijin II coaster derailed.

In the derailment, Yoshino Kogawara, then 19, from the city of Higashiomi in Shiga Prefecture was killed and 19 other visitors were injured.

Three Expoland officials have been slapped with negligence charges over the roller coaster accident.

Expoland opened in 1972 at the site of the 1970 Osaka Expo, and offered more than 40 rides as well as restaurants and shops.

In early December, Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto said he plans to ask Paramount Pictures Corp., a major U.S. film studio, to build a theme park at the site of Expoland amusement park.

Copyright ? 2009 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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