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Seven missing in tunnel accident

TOKYO — At least seven people were feared missing Sunday after about 150 concrete panels fell from the roof of a tunnel on the main highway linking Tokyo with central Japan.

Efforts to rescue any survivors trapped inside the tunnel were hindered by heavy smoke after one vehicle caught fire inside the Sasago Tunnel, about 50 miles outside Tokyo.

Rescuers also temporarily suspended work because of fears of a further collapse. They were attempting to reach at least several vehicles believed buried in the rubble, including a truck whose driver was trapped inside and had called his company for help.

Local media reported that at least three bodies had been found inside the tunnel.

Executives for Central Japan Expressway Co. said the company was investigating why the concrete panels had given way. A check of the tunnel’s roof in September and October found nothing amiss, they said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports