Japan has ordered emergency inspections of highway tunnels across the country after concrete slabs from the ceiling of a tunnel west of Tokyo fell onto moving vehicles Sunday, killing at least nine people.
On Monday, the government ordered the immediate inspections of the 49 other highway tunnels of similar design in Japan.
Safety officials are looking into the possibility that anchor bolts holding metal supports for concrete panels had failed. The tunnel, built in 1977, was last inspected in September.
Early Monday, rescue officials were forced to suspend their work on the collapsed tunnel until more supports could be added to the remaining panels.
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.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
A damaged truck is towed away from the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway, after being trapped in a collapsed tunnel the previous day, in Koshu, Yamanashi prefecture, in this photo distributed by Kyodo, December 3, 2012.
A surveillance monitor showing a car and rescue team in the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi prefecture, is pictured at a branch office of Central Nippon Expressway Company in Hachioji in this photo taken by Kyodo, December 2, 2012.
Police officers and firefighters gather in front of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Otsuki, Yamanashi prefecture, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 2, 2012.
Broken concrete ceiling panels are seen after collapsing inside Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture, in this handout still image taken from video by Yamanashi Prefectural Police, December 2, 2012.
Smoke is seen from the Sasago Tunnel (top) on the Chuo Expressway as police officers gather in Koshu, Yamanashi prefecture, in this Kyodo handout photo, December 2, 2012.