Japanese tunnel rescue efforts suspended as attempts are made to secure roof as authorities confirm nine deaths
Video footage from cameras inside the tunnel, after the fire was extinguished, showed firefighters picking their way through cement roof panels that collapsed onto vehicles
Sunday 02 December 2012
Concrete ceiling slabs fell onto moving vehicles deep inside a long Japanese road tunnel, and authorities confirmed nine deaths before suspending rescue work today while the roof was being reinforced to prevent more collapses.
Two vehicles caught fire in the accident this morning, and heavy smoke initially hindered rescue efforts.
The location of the accident about a mile inside the three mile long Sasago Tunnel was also making the work difficult.
The nine dead were travelling in three vehicles in the tunnel about 50 miles west of Tokyo on a road that links the capital to central Japan.
The tunnel opened in 1977 and is one of many in the mountainous country.
The search was suspended this morning while the road operator does work to support the remaining slabs in the ceiling, said Jun Goto, an official at the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. It is expected to resume by afternoon.
Police and the road operator Central Japan Expressway Co. were investigating why the concrete slabs collapsed. An inspection of the tunnel's roof in September found nothing amiss, according to Satoshi Noguchi, a company official.
An estimated 270 concrete slabs, each weighing 1.4 metric tons, suspended from the arched roof of the tunnel fell over a stretch of about 120 yards, Mr Noguchi said.
The operator was exploring the possibility that bolts holding a metal piece suspending the panels above the road had become aged, he said.
The panels, measuring about 16 feet by four feet, and three inches thick, were installed when the tunnel was constructed in 1977.
Company President and chief executive Takekazu Kaneko said that the company was inspecting other tunnels of similar structure, including a parallel tunnel for traffic going in the opposite direction. Both sections of the road were shut down indefinitely.
Two people suffered injuries in the collapse.
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Isis 'throw man off a building for homosexual affair' and beat him to death when he survives
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...