After revelations that old rods and bolts might have led to the collapse of Japan’s Sasago tunnel that killed at least nine people, Japanese authorities have called for urgent examination of highway tunnels across the country.
The tunnel collapse Sunday, which trapped in and destroyed several vehicles, has prompted uneasiness and fear among the Japanese people about safety of tens of years old structures.
According to reports, an investigation has been launched into the tragic incident. Highway operator officials suggested that the tunnel, which was built in the 1970s, may have collapsed due to loosened metal rods and bolts. The tunnel was last checked by experts in September.
Japan has around 49 other highway tunnels of identical designs. The government has reportedly dispatched teams to inspect them. The teams consist of experts in highway tunnel designs and engineers who will look into the likelihood that the bolts anchoring metals to the concrete pane had botched. The tunnel, built in 1977, was last inspected in September.
The Japanese media has reported that for the last three decades, the company that looks after Sasago tunnel had depended on elementary image-based assessments there, devoid of reinforcement or maintenance from the time when it was built.
Central Nippon Expressway, the company that operates Chuo Expressway, said aging of bolts and rods may have resulted in the disaster.
During a press conference, the Japanese government spokesperson said the country’s public highways and other infrastructures have aged and will demand an enormous investment to make certain their safety in the future.
Rescuers uncovered nine dead bodies from the collapsed tunnel’s debris Monday morning. The dead included a truck driver who contacted his employer from his mobile phone while trapped inside the tunnel. Three burned and destroyed vehicles were also pulled out from the tunnel.
Although the collapsed tunnel is located far away from Tokyo, yet its collapse and subsequent closure has resulted in major traffic disturbances, particularly for people who depend on the highway for business.
“Early Monday, rescue officials were forced to suspend their work on the collapsed tunnel until more supports could be added to the remaining panels,” according to VOA.