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THE JAPAN TIMES, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), BBC NEWS (UK)

Worldcrunch

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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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

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