Japan security services have swung into investigative actions after Sasago Turnel, a Japanese highway tunnel in Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture with a three mile stretch collapsed on Sunday killing at least nine people and trapping many more. The roof of the tunnel fell on moving vehicles.
Rescuers struggled to pull people out from the rubble as operatives struggled desperately to pull bodies out as the the tunnel ceiling panels collapsed..
The rescue operation was so dangerous that it had to be suspended to avoid more collapse as the roof was being reinforced to avoid further collapse. .
Sasago Tunnel is around 50 miles west of Tokyo, the Japanese capital.
Video footage from cameras inside the tunnel showed firefighters picking their way through cement roof panels that collapsed onto vehicles after the triggered fire was extinguished.
Two vehicles caught fire in the accident yesterday morning, and heavy smoke initially hindered rescue efforts.
The location of the accident, about a mile inside Sasago Tunnel, in Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, was also making the work difficult.
Jun Goto, an official at the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, said highway operators are carrying out work to support the remaining panels in the ceiling.
Mr Goto said it’s not clear if there are other survivors
Police and the highway operator Central Japan Expressway Co were investigating why the concrete panels collapsed. The size of each panel, how many fell and other details about the collapse were not immediately released.
The nine dead were traveling in three vehicles in the tunnel that links the capital to central Japan. The tunnel opened in 1977 and is one of many in the mountainous country.
Company President and CEO Takekazu Kaneko said that the company was inspecting other tunnels of similar structure, including a parallel tunnel for traffic going in the opposite direction. Both sections of the highway were shut down indefinitely.
Two people suffered injuries in the collapse.