9 bodies recovered from vehicles crushed when tunnel collapses in Japan
December 3, 2012 -- Updated 0126 GMT (0926 HKT)
- NEW: 5 of the bodies are found in a burned station wagon, police say
- NEW: An inspection of the tunnel occurred a few months ago, a company official says
- NEW: The partial cave-in was on the Chuo Expressway 50 miles west of Tokyo
- It's not clear what caused the collapse, or when the tunnel might reopen
Tokyo (CNN) -- Nine bodies -- eight of them burned -- have been pulled from vehicles crushed in a tunnel collapse about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Tokyo, a highway police spokesperson said early Monday.
Five of those were recovered in one charred station wagon, and three others were in another burned vehicle, according to the police spokesperson. The other fatality was in a truck.
The Sasago tunnel on the Chuo Expressway remained closed Monday morning, one day after the cave-in occurred on the highway's Tokyo-bound lanes, Otsuki police said.
Officials from the East Yamanashi Fire Department said the section of concrete that fell was about 50 to 60 meters long and about 20 centimeters (8 inches) thick.
Tunnel collapse in eastern Japan
Soon after the collapse, Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired images showing smoke rising, a blue car with its side smashed in, and emergency vehicles on the scene.
Crews worked through the night trying to get to victims, all the while wary that the tunnel might collapse further. Those efforts continue, and authorities have not said if they believe more bodies will be found.
The privately held Central Nippon Expressway Company operates the 4.7-kilometer-long Sasago tunnel, among others, as well as expressways and toll roads around Japan.
Central Nippon Expressway conducts annual inspections of the tunnel, with one particularly thorough inspection held every five years, a company spokesperson said. A more intensive inspection of the Sasago tunnel was held sometime in the past two to three months, the spokesperson added.
The Chuo Expressway is a particularly busy stretch of highway that runs between Tokyo and, among other places, Mount Fuji.
While it is a ways from the Japanese capital, the partial tunnel collapse and its subsequent closure is expected to cause major traffic and other headaches, especially for those who rely on it for business.
Authorities have not given any indication as to when they expect the tunnel to reopen, nor is it clear why the collapse occurred.
Are you there? Share you stories, videos and images.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.