Sasago Tunnel

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Sasago Tunnel
Kōshū entrance to the Sasago Tunnel
May 2009
Location Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35°37′16″N 138°47′34″E / 35.62111°N 138.79278°E / 35.62111; 138.79278Coordinates: 35°37′16″N 138°47′34″E / 35.62111°N 138.79278°E / 35.62111; 138.79278
Status Reopened
Route Chūō Expressway
Start Ōtsuki, Yamanashi
End Kōshū, Yamanashi
Opened 1977
Owner Central Nippon Expressway Company
Traffic Automobiles • Motorbikes

4.784 kilometres (2.973 mi) (Tokyo-bound)

4.717 kilometres (2.931 mi) (Nagoya-bound)
Number of lanes 2 uni-directional in each bore

The Sasago Tunnel (笹子トンネル Sasago Tonneru?) is a Japanese twin-bore motorway tunnel on the Chūō Expressway on the border of the cities of Kōshū and Ōtsuki in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.[1] It is located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of the capital Tokyo.[2][3] It was built in 1977.[4]

Ceiling collapse[edit]

At approximately 8 am on December 2, 2012, nearly 150 concrete ceiling panels inside the Tokyo-bound Sasago Tunnel collapsed, crushing three vehicles, including a van carrying six persons that caught fire.[4][5][6] The fallen panels were 20 centimetres (7.9 in) thick and weighed 1.2 tonnes (1.2 long tons; 1.3 short tons) each.[4][7] The caved-in point was 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the Tokyo-side exit and spanned a length of 50 to 60 metres (160 to 200 ft).[7] Smoke could be seen billowing from the Kōshū entrance to the tunnel.[8]

Nine people died and two were injured, making it the deadliest Japanese roadway accident in history. The tunnel was closed for a period of 27 days for repairs and removal of ceiling panels, before the south tube reopened on December 29.[6][9] The north tube, where the collapse happened, reopened on February 8, 2013.[10]

The nature of the collapse closely resembled a similar ceiling collapse in the Fort Point Channel Tunnel in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006.


  1. ^ 中央自動車道笹子トンネル天井板落下事故関連情報 [Information on Chuo Expressway Sasebo Tunnel Ceiling Panel Collapse] (in Japanese). Saitama, Saitama Prefecture, Japan: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Kanto Regional Development Bureau. 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  2. ^ "Japan Police: Motorway Tunnel Caves In". Sky News. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  3. ^ "Cars trapped after Japanese tunnel collapse". CNN. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  4. ^ a b c Martin Fackler (2 December 2012), Nine Killed When Highway Tunnel Collapses in Japan New York Times
  5. ^ 中央道・笹子トンネル内で崩落事故 車数台が巻き込まれる(フジニュースネットワークニュース2012年12月02日11:04配信(配信日に閲覧))
  6. ^ a b "Nine dead in Japan tunnel collapse: reports". CTV News. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b Ozawa, Harumi (2 December 2012). "Seven trapped in Japan tunnel collapse". The Age. AFP. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Smoke is seen from the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway as Police officers gather in Koshu". Photo posted at AlertNet. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  9. ^ "Japan orders tunnel inspections after Sasago collapse". BBC News. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  10. ^ "笹子トンネル 2か月ぶり全面開通へ". NHK News. 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Sasago Tunnel at Wikimedia Commons