Sunday, 2 December 2012
At least three killed in Japan tunnel collapse
At least three people were killed and two women injured when a section of a four-km-long tunnel collapsed in Japan Sunday, media reports said.
The Sasago tunnel in the Chou expressway in Otsuki, about 80 km west of Tokyo, collapsed around 8 am, trapping many cars inside, Xinhua reported citing Kyodo News.
Two people were taken to hospital. Firefighters managed to control a fire triggered by a crash of two vehicles after the ceiling and wall collapsed in a 100-metre section of the tunnel.
The cars were crushed after the 20-cm-thick ceiling collapsed in a 50-60 metre section of the cave. A woman, who managed to escape the collapse, said she was in a car in which five others were trapped.
Rescuers were earlier forced to withdraw from the tunnel as engineers at the site warned that the tunnel's structure was unstable and might collapse again. After hours of suspension, rescue work restarted around 4 pm. The operator of the highway, Central Nippon Expressway Company, apologised for the incident. The company said that in a regular check in September, they did not find any defects inside the tunnel.