Tragedy occurred in Japan on Sunday morning when a tunnel on the Chuo Expressway a little outside Tokyo collapsed, trapping cars and their passengers inside. Around 30 vehicles were inside the 4.7 kilometer tunnel when a large number of concrete ceiling panels fell halfway to the exit. Emergency rescue workers quickly arrive to the scene and pulled five of the nine bodies found so far, three men and two women with charred remains, from their cars.
The Sasago Tunnel is located bout 85 kilometers (53 miles) west of Tokyo, in Yamanashi Prefecture. One vehicle caught fire inside the tunnel, filling it with smoke, and making it difficult for fire and rescue workers to get to other trapped people. Rescue efforts also had to be temporarily called off at one point due to fear of additional collapse, which is said to have been caused by a mudslide. One of the other confirmed deaths as of Monday morning is a 50 year old truck driver who called his employers for help immediately after the accident. The three other deaths are two elderly women and one elderly man who were traveling in the same car.
Those who were able to flee the tunnel on their own in the immediate aftermath report hearing voices of others calling for help. Camera footage from inside the tunnel has revealed thick concrete columns blocking the road, with rescue workers scrambling overtop to reach the trapped cars. Police have said they’ve already begun a negligence probe over the collapse, while the highway operators, Central Japan Expressway Co., released a statement saying routine inspections in September and October found nothing wrong.
[Media via AP/AFP]