Victims Mourned 9 Years after Expressway Tunnel Collapse

Society

Otsuki, Yamanashi Pref., Dec. 2 (Jiji Press)--Nine people who lost their lives in a tunnel ceiling collapse on the Chuo Expressway in central Japan were remembered Thursday, nine years after the accident.

At a site near Sasago Tunnel in the city of Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, those who lost loved ones in the tragedy offered silent prayers and flowers to the victims at 8:03 a.m. (11:03 p.m. Wednesday GMT), the exact time when concrete ceiling slabs of the tunnel fell off on Dec. 2, 2012. "Nine years after the incident, my agony does not disappear. It only grows," one of the mourners said.

About 20 people, including bereaved relatives, executives of Central Nippon Expressway Co., or Nexco Central, which manages the tunnel, and officials of the Japanese transport ministry, attended a memorial ceremony held at the Hatsukari rest area on the expressway.

"We are committed afresh to thoroughly maintaining the mindset and taking actions that put safety first, and our company will fully work across the group to increase the safety of our expressways," Nexco Central President Yoshihito Miyaike said at the ceremony, organized by the expressway operator.

"When I look at a picture of her, who was happy, I come to realize that Nexco Central has a grave responsibility for depriving her of her life," Shinichi Ishikawa, 72, who lost his daughter Yuri, 28, in the accident, said after the memorial service.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press