TOKIO (AP) — Por lo menos siete personas continúan desaparecidas y se presume que varias murieron el domingo después que unos 150 paneles de hormigón armado cayeron del techo de un túnel en la carretera principal que une Tokio con el centro del Japón.

Los esfuerzos para rescatar a los sobrevivientes atrapados en el túnel se vieron obstruidos por un espeso humo emanado por un vehículo que se incendió dentro del túnel Sasago, a unos 80 kilómetros (50 millas) de Tokio.

LEE LOS COMENTARIOS A ESTA NOTA Y AGREGA EL TUYO


Los equipos de rescate suspendieron temporalmente su trabajo ante el temor de nuevos desprendimientos. Intentaban llegar por lo menos hasta varios vehículos que al parecer estaban enterrados entre los escombros, entre ellos un camión cuyo conductor estaba atrapado dentro y llamó a su empresa para pedir ayuda.

"Escuché voces de gente que pedía ayuda, pero las llamas eran demasiado intensas", dijo una mujer que logró escapar del túnel a la televisora pública NHK.


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  • Police officers and firefighters gather at the exit of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday morning, Dec. 2, 2012. Police said that parts of the tunnel collapsed Sunday morning, trapping an unknown number of vehicles as smoke from a fire inside prevented rescuers from approaching. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • JAPAN-ROAD-ACCIDENT-TUNNEL-FIRE

    A policeman stands guard in front of emergency service vehicles on the road leading to the entrance of the collapsed Sasago tunnel on the Chuo expressway in Koshu city, Yamanashi prefecture, some 80-kilometres west of Tokyo on December 2, 2012. At least seven people are missing after concrete ceiling panels along a section of highway tunnel collapsed in Japan on December 2. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JAPAN-ROAD-ACCIDENT-TUNNEL-FIRE

    Operation vehicles continue with the rescue as they enter the Sasago tunnel along the Chuo highway near the city of Otsuki in Yamanashi prefecture, 80 kms west of Tokyo on December 2, 2012 after part of the tunnel collapsed. Japanese rescuers found five charred bodies in the highway tunnel that collapsed earlier in the day, crushing cars and triggering a blaze, and sparking fears of another cave-in. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 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, 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) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • Police officers and firefighters gather at the exit of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday morning, Dec. 2, 2012. Police said that parts of the tunnel collapsed Sunday morning, trapping an unknown number of vehicles as smoke from a fire inside prevented rescuers from approaching. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • This image taken from the monitoring camera of Central Nippon Expressway's Hachioji branch, Tokyo, shows the fallen roof panels in the Sasago Tunnel, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. At least seven people were feared missing after parts of a tunnel collapsed Sunday on the highway west of Tokyo, trapping vehicles as smoke from a fire inside initially prevented rescuers from approaching. The words at bottom read: Sasago Tunnel (To Tokyo). (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • Equipos de socorro a la entrrada del túnel Sasago, en Koshu, prefectura de Yamanashi, Japón el domingo 2 de diciembre del 2012. Parte del túnel se desplomó y causó dos muertos y siete desaparecidos. (Foto AP/Kyodo News)

  • Aerial

    Equipos de socorro a la entrrada del túnel Sasago, en Koshu, prefectura de Yamanashi, Japón el domingo 2 de diciembre del 2012. Parte del túnel se desplomó y causó dos muertos y siete desaparecidos. (Foto AP/Kyodo News)

  • A worker of Central Nippon Expressway Co. speaks to the reporters near the Sasago Tunnel where a collapse took place in Koshu, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. At least seven people were feared missing Sunday after about 150 concrete panels fell from the roof of the tunnel on the main highway linking Tokyo with central Japan. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • JAPAN-ROAD-ACCIDENT-TUNNEL-FIRE

    Rescue workers and policeman gather alongside emergency services vehicles on the road leading to the entrance of the collapsed Sasago tunnel on the Chuo expressway in Koshu city, Yamanashi prefecture, some 80-kilometres west of Tokyo on December 2, 2012. At least seven people are missing after concrete ceiling panels along a section of highway tunnel collapsed in Japan on December 2. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JAPAN-ROAD-ACCIDENT-TUNNEL-FIRE

    Operation vehicles continue with the rescue as they enter the Sasago tunnel along the Chuo highway near the city of Otsuki in Yamanashi prefecture, 80 kms west of Tokyo on December 2, 2012 after part of the tunnel collapsed. Japanese rescuers found five charred bodies in the highway tunnel that collapsed earlier in the day, crushing cars and triggering a blaze, and sparking fears of another cave-in. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JAPAN-ROAD-ACCIDENT-TUNNEL-FIRE

    A member of a fire brigade answers questions for the media outside the Sasago tunnel (back L) along the Chuo highway near the city of Otsuki in Yamanashi prefecture, 80 kms west of Tokyo on December 2, 2012 after part of the tunnel collapsed. Japanese rescuers found five charred bodies in the highway tunnel that collapsed earlier in the day, crushing cars and triggering a blaze, and sparking fears of another cave-in. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

La Agencia para Manejo de Incendios y Desastres emitió un comunicado en el que dijo que había cinco personas en un auto que se incendió dentro del túnel, y por lo menos otra en un camión. No obstante, las autoridades dijeron que no podían confirmar una cifra de las personas presumiblemente fallecidas.


Ejecutivos de la empresa Japan Expressway Co. dijeron que investigan el suceso. Una revisión de los paneles del techo del túnel de 4,7 kilómetros (3 millas) efectuada en septiembre y octubre no detectó problema alguno, dijeron.


El túnel, abierto en 1977, se desplomó parcialmente hacia el kilómetro 1,7 (una milla).