National

Two killed as bridge beam falls at construction site in western Japan

Kyodo

Two workers died and eight others were injured Friday when a 113-meter-long, 1,350-ton bridge beam under construction above a national route in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, fell to the road about 20 meters below, police and firefighters said.

The two men, both in their 30s, and eight others who were injured were among 30 workers engaged in construction of bridges of the Shin-Meishin Expressway scheduled to be completed by February next year.

The bridge beam is believed to have fallen around 4:30 p.m. while it was being lifted by a crane. Hyogo Prefectural Police will investigate to determine whether there were problems with safety management at the construction site.

There were no reports that any vehicles running on National Route 176 were affected by the accident.

Yoshinori Morisaki, a 42-year-old truck driver who was nearby at the time of the accident, said, “I thought an earthquake had occurred due to the loud noises.”

Kayo Shimoura, 66, who was preparing dinner when the accident happened, said, “I’m scared because I cross that road (where the beam fell) almost every day.”

The main contractors of the construction are Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. and Chiba-based Yokokawa Bridge Corp.

West Nippon Expressway Co., which operates the expressway, said it will stop all construction at the Shi-Meishin Expressway and will run safety checks on Saturday.