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Japanese motorway tunnel caves in, vehicles ablaze: Reports

Published on Dec 2, 2012 10:24 AM
A motorway tunnel caved in 80 km west of Tokyo on Sunday, trapping an unspecified number of vehicles, press reports said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - An unknown number of vehicles were ablaze inside a collapsed motorway tunnel – one of the longest in Japan – outside Tokyo on Sunday, police said, as a full-scale emergency operation swung into action.

At least three vehicles were crushed and three people were injured in the accident, public broadcaster NHK said, but the report could not be immediately confirmed by police and fire department officials.

The accident occurred on Tokyo-bound lanes inside the Sasago tunnel on the Chuo Expressway, some 80km west of the capital, at around 8am (2300 GMT Saturday), an official at the expressway traffic police unit told AFP.

“We don’t know exactly how many vehicles are on fire,” he said by telephone.  NHK footage from inside the tunnel showed a white ambulance and several firefighters wearing protective gear, working in an section shrouded in white smoke. A number of cars with lights flashing were also seen.

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