Police raid Japan tunnel operator for evidence of safety negligence
TOKYO (AP) - Police investigating an expressway-tunnel ceiling collapse that killed nine people searched the offices of the tunnel operator on Tuesday to see if there is any evidence that the company neglected safety.
Hundreds of concrete slabs collapsed on Sunday deep inside the Sasago Tunnel west of Tokyo, falling on three moving vehicles. The accident is raising calls for more spending on Japan's aging infrastructure.
The tunnel, a major link between Tokyo and central Japan, opened in 1977 at about the peak of the country's postwar road construction boom. Central Nippon Expressway Co., its government-owned operator, said it had no record of any repairs performed since then, but company official Satoshi Noguchi said an inspection of the tunnel's roof in September found nothing amiss.
Authorities early Tuesday raided several of the company's offices, including its headquarters in the central city of Nagoya. About a dozen uniformed police were shown on television entering the headquarters, toting cardboard and plastic boxes.