At least 5 dead in fire after Yamanashi expressway tunnel caves in

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  • 11

    Akemi Mokoto

    This kind of structural disaster is very rare in Japan since they spend so much on their transportation infrastructure

  • 5

    jforce

    Very odd this happened. I'm more shocked some of the tunnels made in the 50s haven't collapsed.

  • 12

    MaximumMan

    its not the first tiime,..it happened on a national highway in hokkaido about 12 years ago

  • 9

    Cortes Elijah

    I pray that their okay and their families will be okay in this dark time!

  • 2

    Pattie Inoue

    Very rare indeed. I hope all will be safe.

  • 3

    CrisGerSan

    How terrible. I so much hope that everyone is ok, and will pray for the best

  • 0

    basroil

    “The tunnel’s smoke ventilation system is malfunctioning and we can’t see anything one meter in front,” Kazuya Tezuka told AFP by telephone

    This is surely the number one cause for concern. Without proper ventilation, the center area can become a deathtrap for those that can't find the way out, it's happened before.

    I wonder if people will protest to have these clearly dangerous tunnels shut down before they cause more issues.

  • -19

    some14some

    All japan needs is an anti-aging element, is that LDP? I don't know.

  • 1

    bajhista65

    Reminded me of a movie by Stallone. I hoped no one died.

  • -1

    overchan

    Im not an engineer but... No steel beam or concrete wil beat nature itself. I have seen mountains sliced by nature itself. Hope that those people are alive. But the fire...

  • 0

    basroil

    overchanDec. 02, 2012 - 02:38PM JST

    Im not an engineer but... No steel beam or concrete wil beat nature itself. I have seen mountains sliced by nature itself

    I am an engineer (not civil, but have some formal education in metallurgy and structural mechanics), and I can say you're absolutely right. There's a reason why Japan loves to rebuild old things every few decades, and the effects of nature surely contributes to it.

  • 1

    Mocheake

    This tunnel collapse is not unprecedented in Japan. If memory serves me correct, there was a massive collapse in Hokkaido in 1994 or 1995. The boulder that came through was about the size of a ten-story building and it took several weeks to clear the debris and get out the bodies. Hopefully, there won't be any deaths in this case.

  • 4

    forzaducati

    This tunnel did not collapse itself, but rather a section of the roof panneling dropped down.

  • 2

    Daijoboots

    This tunnel did not collapse itself, but rather a section of the roof panneling dropped down.

    Yep, at this stage there does not appear to be any earth/soil inside the tunnel.

  • 0

    Crazedinjapan

    I've used those tunnels many times. I've always wondered how safe they were and if they were inspected enough being that there are a number of quakes in the area every year. You think that they'd have some type of distortion sensors that could give a early warning of a possible impending collapse.

    They definitely need to test the ventilation system more often and install failsafes ...number of people that could have got out probably succumbed to smoke inhalation.

  • -7

    smithinjapan

    Sounds to me like short-cuts were taking in safety here. Why else would the tunnel have collapsed without a major earthquake or the like?

    overchan: "No steel beam or concrete wil beat nature itself. I have seen mountains sliced by nature itself."

    It will if it's made well and according to law, which is often not the case with construction companies in Japan. They get paid heaps, and cut corners to further profits. There is no reason why nature could 'beat' the tunnel in this case unless the tunnel was poorly made.

    What mountains have you seen 'sliced by nature', by the way?

  • -4

    Cricky

    It's not compliant! Obviously did not meet engineering standards! But no one is to blame, again! After all being competent at your job ends with the first death. Then it's just a matter of promotion.

  • 1

    LiveInTokyo

    This kind of structural disaster is very rare in Japan since they spend so much on their transportation infrastructure

    It has happened before. There was another big tunnel collapse up in Hokkaido quite a few years ago. After much stuffing around, the rescuers finally got in only to find the people who were in a bus actually had an enormous boulder fall on them. I remember watching for ages on TV with people literally hanging around doing nothing.

    If I remember correctly, there was an inquiry which found numerous things had gone wrong.

  • 2

    Farmboy

    This would be terrifying ... I can't imagine it. Glad so many made it out in one piece.

  • 3

    Liz Cooper

    If this occurred at another time or day, could have been catastrophic. Hard to imagine engineering not maintained with the levels of road traffic in Japan.

  • 0

    Galactus Jack

    This particular tunnel was built in 1975. Go to CNN and watch video on latest news report.

  • 0

    AquArin Chan Daisan

    pray to god all the victim can be saved

  • 2

    Elbuda Mexicano

    I use this tunnel many, many times a year so it's scares the crap out of me!! RIP poor victims

  • 1

    kyushubill

    This is going to be tough for the victims to get over. My heart goes out to them and their families.

  • 1

    Newsman

    For comparison's sake, the tunnel that collapsed in Hokkaido did so in February 1996; 20 people died in the Toyohama road tunnel collapse.

  • 1

    Galactus Jack

    I've always wondered how safe they were and if they were inspected...

    Japanese tv reporting that this tunnel was inspected recently and passed inspection.

  • 1

    IMijjasik

    I saw this news a few hours ago through BBC. It's really quite the experience to be a survivor in this kind of situation. I do bet you'll be traumatize for half of your life!

  • 7

    Nessie

    This kind of structural disaster is very rare in Japan since they spend so much on their transportation infrastructure

    It's rare because most of the infrastructure is relatively new. Japan will face more of this in a phenomenon called bloc obsolescence. My money this time is on alkali-silica reaction, which is deterioration in cement that occurs over time from a progressive chemical reaction...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkali%E2%80%93silica_reaction

    Basically, the concrete deteriorates from a reaction between the cement paste and the aggregate. This has recently started gaining attention among engineers in Japan.

    For those who brought up the 1996 Furubira collapse in Hokkaido, that collapse occurred from shifting rocks. I suspect that the mechanism is different this time. What it means is that Japan should be shifting its budget from new construction to repair/retrofit/maintenance, which it has started to do.

    Finally, the writer or translator probably means "concrete slabs" instead of "panels."

  • 1

    Itaru

    I am checking news and puzzling cause. Seems like it is not crash of tunnel itself, and ceilings fell down by unclear reason. Obviously periodical surveillance must be mandatory (as well as sensors for tunnel). But there was blind spot.

  • 2

    Pattie Inoue

    RIP those who perished.

  • 3

    timeon

    Nessie, Japanese news said something about the metal frame that was supporting the concrete panels, which apparently slipped off and caused the panels to collapse. The tunnel was inspected in September

  • 2

    Daijoboots

    Finally, the writer or translator probably means "concrete slabs" instead of "panels."

    I would call them panels. They are 8 and 9cm thick and were suspended from the roof to create ventilation ducts.

  • 2

    Antonios_M

    Japanese news said something about the metal frame that was supporting the concrete panels, which apparently slipped off and caused the panels to collapse. The tunnel was inspected in September

    If the tunnel was indeed inspected in September, then some people must be held responsible for this terrible accident. And on Chuo Expressway? One should expect them to be very very strict with the inspection.

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    Antonios: "If the tunnel was indeed inspected in September, then some people must be held responsible for this terrible accident."

    It'll be a "moushiwake arimasen" and bow and maybe a brown envelope at best. Before that, though the construction company will ask for protection from the government.

  • 1

    Charles M Burns

    Someone is in trouble...

  • 0

    cwhite

    Think of it this way, mechanical (architectural) failures are inevitable. Like nuclear plant accidents, they will happen regardless of the planning, money pumped in, or regulatories. The reason, becuase somebody always cuts corners, human errors do happen and mother nature is not forgiving. With Earth a living, breathing, moving object racing through space anything can happen. It will always come down to statistics and while once in 1,000 years or 1 in a million does sound pretty good, it doesn't mean much when that time is now.

  • 1

    kwatt

    It seems that the tunnel is not collapsed, but many concrete panels (each panel weight is one ton) fell down and crushed cars. Probably metal frames must be rusting for many years.

  • -6

    Crazedinjapan

    It will be like Fukushima , a lot of finger pointing , generating more confusion as to why the tunnel collapse, who was ultimately responsible for clearing it as safe ( perhaps they should do as airplanes are done ) person inspects final inspectors go over and sign off )

    They will probably find out that the ventilation failure was indeed noticed as a issue in September and a group of idiots were still in the process of discussing who was going to repair and how much they were going to charge doing it.

    Decision making...up the ladder ...months and back down to implement !!

    R.I.P.

  • 8

    Harry_Gatto

    When facts are few experts are many.

  • 2

    OldHawk

    Thoughts and prayers to those injured, and for the families and friends of the souls lost.

  • 2

    Thunderbird2

    Can't people comment on tragedies like this without trying to blame someone? Accidents DO happen.

    Anyway, RIP to those who lost their lives in this horrible accident, and I hope those who were injured make a speedy and full recovery.

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    @Thunderbird

    Can't people comment on tragedies like this without trying to blame someone? Accidents DO happen.

    Exactly. There speaks a Brit. Not one of those litigious, blame-obsessed people from another part of the world. Well said, mate.

  • 6

    ReformedBasher

    @Harry

    I'd say there's a couple of commenters who are making some educated guesses, rather than the usual stupid speculation that has become the norm on this site.

    There's tunnels everywhere you look in Japan, the number of incidents have relatively few.

    It's a pity that some commenters can't resist the urge to bash Japan yet again, especially considering the tragic nature of this story. The people who died have families and friends. Would usual trashy commenters want to repeat what they say here at the funerals of the deceased? I don't know who I fell sorrier for - the dead or those who just can't show some respect for them.

  • 2

    LostinNagoya

    RIP. It makes me souber thinking of the new Shinkansen line connecting Tokyo and Nagoya...250 meters below surface.

  • 0

    mtwildman

    A terrible tragedy...just watched a news special on this and it seem's age and some cut corners are being scrutinized. Built in 1977! Every time we use a tunnel i wonder!

  • 0

    sighclops

    In hearing about this tragedy and seeing the updates on the news, I was very unhappy with the head of Nexco's press event. He just seemed to give a quick apology and move on. Simply unacceptable!

  • -1

    Crazedinjapan

    Bet the righteous people making comments won't have much to say when the actual facts on negligence comes to light. People getting into accidents driving happens. Tunnels collapsing during construction might be deemed accidental. A finished product or development ?? That's negligence either through design and development or through improper or non existent service and inspection.

    I am sure the grieving families will want and demand an explanation for this disaster. Accident will probably not be accepted as an explaination as to why their loved ones parished in this event.

    I hope when the tunnel is reopened there's a plaque dedicated to the loss of these individuals and each of the families is given some form of restitution,

  • -1

    proxy

    Blame amakudari? I have heard that most maintenance and inspection and dead animal removal on the nations toll roads are sweet contracts awarded without bids to companies set up by former bureaucrats miking the system.

  • 0

    Stephanie Simpson Matsuzaki

    I'm guessing they still haven't identified who has died or is still missing? The mother of a little girl whom I care for at daycare is from Yamanashi originally and has family who lives not too far from Fuji. I'm pretty sure they have to use this tunnel when coming to and from Tokyo. (I'm not sure though) Last Friday the little girl and her mum went to Yamanashi to stay with the grandparents and were supposed to be coming home on the day this happened. I don't know if they went by car or train...but I'm so worried about them now! I hope they weren't in that tunnel. I hope I can see the little girl when I go into work tomorrow....:'( I'll pray for those who were affected by this horrible incident. Another sign of neglect and oversight in my opinion.

  • 1

    Nessie

    Nessie, Japanese news said something about the metal frame that was supporting the concrete panels, which apparently slipped off and caused the panels to collapse. The tunnel was inspected in September

    Thank you. Maybe a design problem.

  • -7

    Viviana Guadagno

    One 28-year-old woman who emerged from the smoke-darkened tunnel by herself told rescuers she had been in a rented vehicle with five other people, fire department official Kazuya Tezuka told AFP by telephone.

    “I have no idea about what happened to the five others. I don’t know how many vehicles were ahead and behind ours,” she was quoted as saying.

    ....sorry but this sounds very selfish !

  • 1

    CrisGerSan

    I am glad to see many people expressing sympathy and compassion. For those who feel the need to criticize or blame, please take your selves elsewhere and let us support and offer condolences here. As for the techincal side, concrete can indeed be affected by chemical processes and decay, if colloidal preperation is used, which involves counter rotation of the water used before preparing the concrete significant increase in tensile strength and flexibility will result. If an engineer working on this project reads this, do the research and it may help prevent future events such as this.

    I pray that any survivors still trapped will be saved.

  • 3

    Thunderbird2

    One 28-year-old woman who emerged from the smoke-darkened tunnel by herself told rescuers she had been in a rented vehicle with five other people, fire department official Kazuya Tezuka told AFP by telephone.

    “I have no idea about what happened to the five others. I don’t know how many vehicles were ahead and behind ours,” she was quoted as saying.

    ....sorry but this sounds very selfish !

    It's called self-preservation. We all like to think we would act rationally in a situation where lives are at stake, including our own, but the human instinct is to survive at all costs... to some that may seem selfish, but it's entirely human.

  • 2

    sensei258

    @ vivianna - and just what was she supposed to do in a dark tunnel filled with smoke, fire, and concrete slabs. Thank God somebody got out.

  • 3

    philly1

    One 28-year-old woman who emerged from the smoke-darkened tunnel by herself told rescuers she had been in a rented vehicle with five other people, fire department official Kazuya Tezuka told AFP by telephone.

    I have no idea about what happened to the five others. I don’t know how many vehicles were ahead and behind ours, she was quoted as saying.

    > ....sorry but this sounds very selfish !

    Oh, really? And if she had been the only one to walk out of an airplane crash alive, would she still be the selfish one? Where does this need to condemn and shame other people come from? Why can't we celebrate that somehow this person survived?

    What if the others with her were killed instantly? How could she tell in the smoke and dust? Should she have stayed in the vehicle "with the group" and died with them to prove that she was not selfish? Sorry. That kind of thinking sounds insanely stupid.

  • -1

    wanderlust

    Hope that it is not a construction problem. Happened before in one of the bullet train tunnels near Shimonoseki, where a company used cheap sea sand instead of pure sand for the concrete, the salt content caused corrosion in the steel, and some large sections dropped, luckily at night when no trains were running.

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