published Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Cars trapped in tunnel collapse outside Tokyo

Police vehicles are parked at the entrance as smoke billows out of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Koshu, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday morning, Dec. 2, 2012. A part of the tunnel collapsed Sunday morning, possibly involving several vehicles and injuring several people, local media said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Police vehicles are parked at the entrance as smoke billows out of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Koshu, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday morning, Dec. 2, 2012. A part of the tunnel collapsed Sunday morning, possibly involving several vehicles and injuring several people, local media said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TOKYO — Japanese police say that parts of a tunnel have collapsed on a highway west of Tokyo, trapping an unknown number of vehicles as smoke from a fire inside prevented rescuers from approaching.

A police spokesman, Yoshihiro Fukutani, said police were still trying to learn the exact situation inside the Sasago Tunnel, about 50 miles outside the city, after parts of a wall inside collapsed early Sunday morning.

Television footage showed police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances massed outside the tunnel’s entrance. A man who said he saw the collapse and alerted authorities to the emergency managed to escape after he was ordered to flee. The roof and windows of another vehicle parked on the roadside outside the tunnel were crushed; the injured occupants reportedly taken to a hospital.

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