• 7 missing in collapse of highway tunnel in Japan
     | December 03,2012

    TOKYO — At least seven people were feared missing and several dead after about 150 concrete panels fell from the roof of a tunnel on the main highway linking Tokyo with central Japan.

    Efforts to rescue any survivors trapped inside the tunnel were hindered by heavy smoke after one vehicle caught fire inside the Sasago Tunnel, about 50 miles outside Tokyo.

    Rescuers also temporarily suspended work because of fears of a further collapse. They were attempting to reach at least several vehicles believed buried in the rubble, including a truck whose driver was trapped inside and had called his company for help.

    “I could hear voices of people calling for help, but the fire was just too strong,” said a woman interviewed by public broadcaster NHK after she escaped from the tunnel.

    The Fire and Disaster Management Agency issued a statement late Sunday saying five people were confirmed to have been in a car that burned inside the tunnel, and at least one other was in a truck.

    However, officials said they could not confirm the exact number of people believed dead.

    Executives for Central Japan Expressway Co. said the company was investigating why the concrete panels had given way. A check of the 3-mile tunnel’s roof in September and October found nothing amiss, they said.

    It said two people were confirmed hurt, but the injuries were not severe.

    The tunnel, which opened in 1977, is one of many in mountainous Japan. The location of the collapse, about a mile inside the tunnel, was complicating rescue efforts, reports said.

    Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances were massed outside the tunnel’s entrance.

    MORE IN Wire News
    LOS ANGELES — The fugitive former Los Angeles police officer charged with killing a man during an... Full Story
    Ex-LAPD officer wanted in killing was lying low in Mexico
    JERUSALEM — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday stepped down as the... Full Story
    Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair resigns from post
    NEW YORK — Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, called “a snake charmer of the soul” for her... Full Story
    Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark dies in NY at 75
    More Articles
    • VIDEOS
    • PHOTOS