Nine people died last December when the ceiling slabs of Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture collapsed. Five of the deceased’s families filed a lawsuit against Central Nippon Expressway Co. (NEXCO-Central) back in May and now demand a severe ruling against the expressway operator, with 896 million yen (approx. $9.15 million) as damage compensation.
The bereaved families said during the first hearing, which took place on Monday, that besides NEXCO-Central’s poor management of the expressway, the ceiling slabs of the tunnel were also unsafe. Despite maintenance tests in September, nothing was done to foresee a possible collapse of the ceiling slabs. A similar incident in the United States was also mentioned and should’ve served as a warning. One parent also questioned the delay of maintenance. The father of Shigeyuki Mori, 27, said, “I wonder why the work hadn’t been done earlier if it could be finished so quickly.” He added that because of the “sloppiness” of the maintenance work, his “son and the others fell victim.”
Two cars were crushed on the day of the incident, but the collapsed tunnel had also caused a fire. Yuri Ishikawa, 28, was among those who died because of the incident. In a letter read by her 63-year old father, her younger sister described Yuri to have “burned to death when she was left in flames of almost 1,000 degrees for three hours.” As NEXCO-Central gave no warning regarding the safety, or rather lack of it, of the Sasago Tunnel, the family of Ishikawa charges the operator as well as all of its employees to be “at fault.”
[via Jiji Press]
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