Seven missing as highway tunnel caves in west of Tokyo while rescuers fear a second collapse
Several burned bodies have reportedly been found among the rubbleVideo footage from cameras inside the
tunnel show firefighters picking
their way through cement roof panels that collapsed onto vehiclesThe cause of the Sasago Tunnel collapse in Japan is under investigation
16:16 GMT, 2 December 2012
At least seven people are feared missing after parts of a major road tunnel collapsed west of Tokyo – trapping vehicles as smoke from a fire inside initially prevented rescuers from approaching.
Several burned bodies have reportedly been found among the rubble at the Sasago Tunnel, around 50 miles outside the capital.
Video footage from cameras inside the tunnel, after the fire was extinguished, showed firefighters picking their way through cement roof panels that collapsed onto vehicles.
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Structural damage: Around 150 concrete panels fell from the roof of the tunnel
Shock: The surprise collapse at the Sasago tunnel has shocked Japan
Search for survivors: A monitoring camera on the Central Nippon Expressway captured the rescue effort
Local media reported rescuers had suspended work out of fears of another collapse.
A woman who escaped from her rental
car after it was trapped in the 2.5 mile-long tunnel told authorities
she was unsure about the condition of five other people who had been in
the vehicle with her.
Deaths: Several burned bodies have reportedly been found among the rubble
Fears: Local media reported rescue efforts were suspended amid fears of another collapse
Vital route: The road is one of the most important in the country, linking Tokyo with central Japan
Trapped: Smoke billows from the entrance of the collapsed tunnel on the Chuo expressway
Another two vehicles were known to be
buried in the rubble, suggesting at least seven people were trapped
inside, according to a statement by the Fire and Disaster Management
It said two people were confirmed injured, one of them moderately.
Long haul: Recovery work has been taken place throughout the day and into the evening
Deadly: The panels that fell from the ceiling of the tunnel are 20 cm think
Hindrance: Firefighters had to battle a blaze in the tunnel before rescuers could approach
Tragedy: Rescue workers have reportedly found burned bodies inside the tunnel
The cause in the collapse of about 330 feet of the tunnel was under investigation.
Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances were massed outside the tunnel's entrance.
Emergency: Investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of the collapse
Collapse: Seven people are feared missing among the rubble in the Sasago tunnel
Team effort: Rescue workers from police, fire department and highway authorities responded to the emergency
A man who said he saw the collapse
and alerted authorities to the emergency told NHK television he managed
to escape after he was ordered to flee.
All hands on deck: Police vehicles and ambulance massed outside the entrance
Injuries: The roof and windows of a parked vehicle outside were crushed and the occupant taken to hospital
Missing: A woman who escaped said she was unsure about the condition of five others in her vehicle
roof and windows of another vehicle parked on the roadside outside the
tunnel were crushed, and the injured occupants reportedly taken to a
Rescue efforts: Police officers and firefighters gather at the exit of the tunnel, near Otsuki
Major highway: The tunnel is around 50 miles west of Japan's capital
Blocked: Police vehicles cut off the road leading to the collapsed underpass
VIDEO: Devastating aftermath as emergency crews take over