At Least Three Dead After Tunnel Collapse in Japan

A tunnel on a major highway in central Japan collapsed Sunday, killing at least three people and starting a fire, reports NBC News.

Attempts to rescue those still trapped inside the smashed tunnel, which began spewing smoke after concrete ceiling panels fell onto the road, have been interrupted for fear they might trigger another collapse.

Three bodies have been found so far, television networks Fuji and Asahi said.

The fire service earlier said at least seven people were unaccounted for in the 2.8-mile tunnel in Yamanashi prefecture, about 50 miles west of Tokyo on the Chou Expressway, a main road connecting the capital to western Japan.

The fire service said the fire was extinguished about 11 a.m. (9 p.m. ET) — some three hours after the accident occurred.  

“Dense smoke was coming out as if it covers the entire mountain,” witness Kiyoko Toyomura told Japanese news agency Kyodo.

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