Japan Tunnel Collapse: Police Raid Operator

Japan Tunnel Collapse: Police Raid Operator

Japanese police probing the collapse of a road tunnel that killed nine people have raided the offices of the operator.

Investigators entered the headquarters of Central Nippon Expressway (Nexco), the government-owned operator of the road and the Sasago tunnel.

A 110m section of the tunnel's concrete ceiling panels collapsed onto cars along the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi, outside Tokyo, on Sunday.

Officials also raided five other branches of Nexco to find out whether the operator neglected safety regulations and maintenance.

An official from operator said the metal rods used to secure the concrete panels to the tunnel's walls may have become loose.

The ceiling panels had not been repaired or reinforced since they were built in 1977 but passed safety checks in September, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan's transport ministry has ordered companies with similar concrete panels in tunnels to make emergency inspections after the accident.

Japanese media reported that investigators will decide whether to revamp regulations for managing and servicing key road infrastructure.

Much more of Japan's transportation system may require refurbishing after years of spending cuts that starved projects of funding, including for needed basic maintenance.

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