Expressway tunnel cave-in: 9 deaths confirmed
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The deaths of nine people Sunday 2 December when an expressway tunnel caved in west of Tokyo, near Mt Fuji, have raised the issue of Japan’s aging transport infrastructure. The debate over the budget and fiscal cuts has heated up, with elections scheduled for 16 December. “With the LDP leading in polls before the Dec. 16 vote, the prospect of more spending would add to fiscal strains that have already seen Japan accumulate more than twice the size of its economy in debt,” reports Business Week.
The tunnel was built in 1970 and Sunday’s accident, which saw 270 giant slabs of concrete fall, was a reminder of the number of other roads, bridges and tunnels that are scheduled to be replaced or will need major structural work due to aging. The transport minister has ordered 49 tunnels inspected, throughout the country, following the accident.
Offices of Nexco, the tunnel operator, were raided Monday to check if the company had complied with safety regulations, Japanese media report.