The Associated Press reports a tunnel collapse between Tokyo and central Japan has left seven people missing. Rescue workers were unable to reach trapped and injured drivers on Sunday after a vehicle caught fire and filled the tunnel with smoke. Those who escaped reported hearing the voices of those still trapped by rubble calling for help, and early reports say at least three bodies have been found inside the collapsed tunnel. A spokesperson with the Fire and Disaster Management agency could not confirm those reports, however.
The three-mile tunnel, about 50 miles outside of Tokyo, originally opened in 1977, but receives regular inspections to ensure safety. Central Japan Expressway Company is currently investigating why the panels gave way in the first place, and says the tunnel’s roof showed no signs of failure during evaluations in September and October.