Early Tuesday morning Japanese police officers raided the offices of Central Japan Expressway Co. (NEXCO), the operator of the Sasago Tunnel that collapsed on Sunday, killing nine people, over discovery of possible negligence. This comes after NEXCO maintenance head Ryoichi Yoshikawa stated to the press on Monday that the collapse in Yamanashi Prefecture appears to have been the result of aging bolts that were never replaced in combination with no repair work being done on the tunnel since it was built in 1977.
More than eight police officers entered the expressway operator’s offices in Hachioji, western Tokyo. A spokesman for the company has said they are cooperating with any investigations. Completely defeating the purpose of a surprise raid, police stated they will carry out further searches of the company’s other offices. Yoshikawa’s earlier statement went on to include that while September inspections of the Sasago Tunnel found nothing wrong, physical tests that should have been conducted were never done. His “apology” added that NEXCO would need to reflect on that and they would sincerely deal with the accident victims.
The collapse took place around 8:00 AM on Sunday, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) west of Tokyo. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has ordered Japan’s transport ministry to begin an immediate investigation into the cause of the accident, and the land and infrastructure ministry has instructed all highway operators to begin emergency safety inspections of the 49 other tunnels in the country built with the same design as Sasago. Roughly 180 concrete panels fell from the ceiling, each one weighing 1.2 tons, trapping 30 cars inside the tunnel.
[via Courier Mail]
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