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Japan Orders Nationwide Probe After Deadly Highway Tunnel Collapse



TOKYO – The Japanese government has ordered emergency inspections of road tunnels across the country after a roof collapse in the Sasago tunnel, on a highway west of Tokyo, killed nine people.

BBC News says that emergency inspections of at least 20 tunnels of a similar age and design will now be carried out, at the request of Japan’s ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.

On Sunday morning, concrete panels collapsed and started a fire in the 4.7-kilometer-long Sasago tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture; the police have confirmed on Monday morning the deaths of nine motorists trapped in three vehicles in the tunnel, The Japan Times reports.

#Police vehicles are parked at the entrance as smoke billows out of the Sasago Tunnel on the #Chuo #Expressway intwitpic.com/bidmc3

— architect-modrnINDIA (@archbhoo) December 2, 2012

It is suspected that one of the rods to which the collapsed concrete panels were fixed came loose and triggered a chain reaction. Although Central Nippon Expressway, the operator of the expressway, said it did not detect any defects during a regular check in September, BBC News confirms that an inquiry into the collapse has been launched.

"Based on the fact that the accident occurred 36 years after the tunnel was completed, we believe aging was the reason," Ryoichi Yoshikawa, executive officer of Central Nippon Expressway told Japan’s Asahi Shimbun.

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Fighting The Russian Army's Systematic Campaign Of Sexual Violence In Ukraine

Hundreds of sexual crimes have been officially reported in Ukraine following the full-scale invasion by the Russian army, though the actual number is likely 10 times higher. Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg explores how the nation is documenting the crimes and responding to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

Photo of a psychologist speaking with trauma victims sat on a bench in a park

Natalia Potseluieva (right), a trauma-focused psychologist, working with rape victims

Anna Steshenko

KYIV — Let's start with the official numbers. Since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February 2022, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has recorded 231 instances of conflict-related sexual violence. The aggressors target all demographic groups: men, women, children, and the elderly.

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Behind the official statistics are disturbing details, with 149 cases involving women and 82 cases involving men. Thirteen of the victims were minors, with 12 being girls and one a boy who also bore witness to his mother being raped. The youngest victim is 4 years old, while the oldest survivor is an 82-year-old female pensioner.

And these are only the officially documented cases. The actual number is likely to be 10 times higher.

Survivors often hesitate to speak out due to fear, trauma, and the social stigma attached to such incidents. This is changing, however, as more survivors of sexual abuse are coming forward to share their stories and receive the comprehensive legal, humanitarian, psychological, and medical support they need.

Mass sexual assault occurs wherever the Russian occupiers set foot. Most cases of sexual crimes have been documented in the de-occupied territories of the Kherson region. Following that are the Donetsk (55), Kyiv (52), Kharkiv (21), Zaporizhzhia (15), Chernihiv (5), Luhansk (3), and Sumy (2) regions.

“Ukraine needs to liberate its occupied territories to be able to work with all the victims,” says Iryna Didenko, who heads the Department of the Office of the Prosecutor General investigating such crimes.

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