A 79-year-old man hit two pedestrians with his car Sunday outside Todaiji, a Buddhist temple in western Japan designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the two, a man from Taiwan, died, police said.

The police arrested Akira Ikenaga at the accident site, a pedestrian walk that approaches a gate of the temple in Nara, known for its large Buddha statue, on suspicion of negligence while behind the wheel.

Police officers gather information around the accident site near Todaiji temple in Nara, western Japan, on Feb. 25, 2024. (Kyodo)

The man from Taiwan, 62, died from a brain contusion, while the other pedestrian, a 52-year-old man from Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, sustained serious injuries, including fractures to his lumbar vertebrae, according to the police and rescue authorities.

The accident site, about 1 kilometer east of Kintetsu Nara Station, is a popular tourist destination near the eighth-century temple.

Ikenaga, who runs a souvenir shop on the approach, admitted to the allegation by saying he inadvertently stepped on the accelerator, mistaking it for the brake pedal, the police said. Vehicle entrance was restricted to the area where the accident occurred except for cars related to shops and other local businesses.

"With a loud bang, the car hit a man and then another man who was walking. It appeared that the car was not under control right before hitting them," said a 75-year-old man who runs a souvenir shop in the area.

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