At Least 9 Dead in Japan Tunnel Collapse

Posted December 3rd, 2012 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
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((updates death toll in hed, lede; new info in grafs 1-2, 5)

Japanese officials say at least nine people died Sunday when concrete ceiling panels fell in a highway tunnel west of Tokyo.

Early Monday, rescue officials were forced to suspend their work until more supports can be added to the remaining panels.

Police said that they had seen a number of charred bodies in a burned-out car. The death toll could be higher since several people still are believed to be missing.

Television reports shortly after the collapse showed black smoke billowing from the 4.7 kilometer Sasago tunnel in Yamanashi prefecture, about 80 kilometers west of Tokyo.