HIROSHIMA – An investigation into a deadly 12-vehicle pileup Thursday inside a highway tunnel in Hiroshima Prefecture has found that the truck that triggered the crash had applied no brakes before it rear-ended other cars, police said.
Meanwhile, the number of people injured in the crash had risen to 71 as of Friday morning, rescue authorities said. The accident left two people dead.
According to the police, the truck slammed into jammed traffic without slowing down at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday on the Sanyo Expressway section in Higashihiroshima.
The pileup occurred about 200 meters into the 840-meter tunnel, which already had a lane closed due to a separate accident involving two trucks at around 4:30 a.m., according to police and highway officials.
After slamming into the first car, the truck pushed several cars to the side, causing five vehicles including the truck to catch fire, before coming to a halt about 50 meters farther in, investigators said.
The police are questioning the driver of the truck, who sustained light leg injuries. They may take him into police custody and eventually file a criminal charge against him, the police said.
The pileup caused black smoke to stream out of a tunnel entrance until the fire was extinguished an hour later.
The tunnel is located about 10 km northwest of Higashihiroshima Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line.