• Kyodo

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Four people died and 13 others were injured Monday in a 12-vehicle pileup on the Tomei Expressway in Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture, firefighters said.

The dead are believed to have been in two of six cars that caught fire in the 11:10 a.m. smashup on the Tokyo-bound lanes of the expressway, which links the capital and Nagoya. The fires were extinguished after about an hour.

Police are investigating and identifying the dead and injured, who were rushed to nearby hospitals in Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures.

They said a large vehicle crashed into a line of cars that had formed due to road-cleaning work. One Tokyo-bound lane was closed due to the work, forcing traffic to a crawl for as long as 7 km.

A fire broke out immediately after the initial crash, and the large vehicle and the passenger cars directly hit by it were completely destroyed. in the fire, witnesses said.

An expressway bus with 32 passengers aboard, as well as a tanker truck carrying gas oil, narrowly escaped being involved in the crash, they said.

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