Entries in Tunnel (4)


Faulty Bolt Suspected in Japanese Tunnel Collapse that Killed Nine

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Authorities in Japan say an old rusty bolt may be the cause of a highway tunnel collapse on Sunday that killed nine people.

Investigators say the ceiling of the Sasago tunnel, about 50 miles west of Tokyo, is lined with concrete panels attached by metal rods secured by a bolt.  When investigators got to the collapsed portion of the tunnel, a ceiling bolt was missing.  Authorities say the bolt was quite old and rust may have caused it to come loose, triggering the collapse.

A fire broke out in the tunnel after the collapse, hampering rescue efforts.  Five of the dead were found inside the charred remains of a van.  A sixth person from the van managed to escape and walk out of the tunnel.  Two elderly women, a man in his 50s and another man in his 70s were all found dead inside their crushed cars.

NEXCO, the private company that manages the Sasago tunnel, says there are a dozen others built just like it in Japan.  The company has launched an emergency inspection of each one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Huge US-Mexico Drug Tunnel Discovered

DEA(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Authorities in Arizona have discovered a lighted, ventilated cross-border drug smuggling tunnel more than two football fields long just steps from an official border-crossing checkpoint between Mexico and the U.S.

Local and federal officials found the tunnel's entrance hidden under a water tank in a one-story building in San Luis, Arizona, near Yuma. The tunnel then plunged 55 feet down before turning south for Mexico. The 240 yard tunnel, which had six-foot ceilings, lighting and ventilation, surfaced across the border inside an ice factory in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents had been monitoring the building on the U.S. side since January, after seeing what they considered suspicious activity "that indicated the site was being used as a potential stash location," said the DEA in a statement. On July 6, local law enforcement stopped a pick-up truck carrying 39 pounds of methamphetamine, and then traced the vehicle back to the San Luis building.

"The recent discovery of this sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel is yet another reminder of how desperate these criminal organizations are and the extent they will go to further their drug dealing operations and endanger the security of our citizens, said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Phoenix Field Division. "The DEA continues to work with our counterparts nationally and internationally to bring to justice these drug trafficking organizations as well as to block their smuggling routes into this country."

After U.S. officials discovered the four-foot-wide tunnel entrance in San Luis, which was surrounded by drums full of the dirt removed from the tunnel, the Mexican military traced the tunnel to its entrance inside the Mexican ice plant. Bags of dirt removed from the tunnel were stacked to the factory ceiling.

Three suspects have been detained in the U.S. in connection with the tunnel.

The San Luis tunnel is the first fully operational smuggling tunnel found in the Yuma area, according to the DEA. In the past 10 years, 89 cross tunnel borders have been found in Arizona and 50 in neighboring California.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the first sophisticated smuggling tunnel was found in Douglas, Arizona more than 20 years ago. Many tunnels have included lighting, ventilation and beam-supported walls and ceilings. In the past seven years, 119 tunnels have been discovered on the southern U.S. border. Only one tunnel has been found on the U.S./Canada border.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Search for Gadhafi Focuses on Secret Tunnels

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Now that the Tripoli power base of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has fallen to rebel fighters, the hunt for the man who ruled the country for four decades has begun in earnest.

Rebel and foreign officials have said they believe he could still be in Libya, and speculation has focused on key cities still in dispute, as well as on a secret network of underground tunnels and bunkers that the Libyan president had built beneath Tripoli for just such an emergency.

"The real moment of victory is when Gadhafi is captured," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya's rebel council, said Wednesday before adding that the council doesn't have any idea where he is.

In an audio message broadcast early Wednesday morning, Gadhafi called his evacuation from his famous Bab al-Aziziya compound in southern Tripoli a "tactical move."

"I call on all the Tripoli residents with all its young, old and armed brigades to defend the city, to cleanse it, put an end to the traitors and kick them out from our city," he said, once again vowing "martyrdom" or victory.  Gadhafi has not been seen for weeks, releasing only audio recordings in that time.

"He doesn't seem to have much control of anything.  It's interesting that he hasn't been seen," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday.

Rebels have yet to take Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and some have speculated that he may be in the southern city of Sabha, his ancestral home.  But the more feverish hypothesizing centers on a long-rumored "underground city" comprised of a series of tunnels and bunkers emanating from the Bab al-Aziziya compound that was attacked by U.S. warplanes in 1986 and again repeatedly by NATO during its five-month air campaign.

Before being overrun Tuesday, the heavily-fortified compound was guarded by the truest of Gadhafi loyalists, leading many to believe that Gadhafi and his family were still holed up inside.  The sprawling 2.3 square mile fortress has a series of 12-foot walls surrounded a military barracks, private residences and a mosque, among other structures.  When rebels entered, several climbed atop the iconic statue of a golden fist crushing an American fighter jet.

Tunnels have been rumored to run from the compound to the airport -- now in rebel control -- as well as to the Mediterranean coast several miles away and to the nearby Rixos hotel, where until Wednesday more than 30 foreign journalists were held by Gadhafi forces.

Tripoli isn't the only place tunnels and bunkers were built for Libya's eccentric leader.  At a palace in the eastern city of al-Baida taken over earlier this year by protesters, a nuclear bunker was reportedly discovered.  According to Al Jazeera, the bunker had a "fully serviced air filter system and is also equipped with emergency generators, fire alarms, water pumps, and a ladder fixed in what could have served as a back emergency exit."

And in the rebel capital of Benghazi, a series of tunnels and prison cells was discovered beneath the once-feared large green government complex known as the Katiba.

Then there's the Great Man-Made River, a project Gadhafi touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Its 2,500-mile system of pipes 12-feet in diameter carries fresh water all over Libya and some have even guessed that Gadhafi may be using it to escape.

With so little concrete information, some analysts believe intelligence services will question the western contractors brought in to build Gadhafi's various tunnels and bunkers.  With few countries willing to take Gadhafi in, it's not terribly far-fetched to believe he may eventually be found in a Saddam Hussein-style spider hole.  But millions of Libyans are hoping to find Gadhafi faster than the eight months it took to hunt down Hussein.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Robbers in Argentina Tunnel into Bank, Loot Safety Deposit Boxes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BUENOS AIRES, Argentina) -- In a heist that seems ripped from a Hollywood movie, thieves in Argentina tunneled into a bank on New Year's Eve, looting some 140 safe deposit boxes from the vault.

The bank robbers entered the vault of a branch of Banco Provincia in Buenos Aires through a 100-foot tunnel that connected to a nearby building, authorities said. The tunnel reportedly included ventilation, lighting, and even carpeting.

At least three thieves snuck through the tunnel on New Year's Eve while the bank was closed and spent the weekend collecting their loot, authorities said. Bank security cameras reportedly recorded images of the suspects leaving with money and other stolen property, lifted from roughly 10 percent of the bank's safety deposit boxes.

"It was a really impressive job," said prosecutor Martin Niklison.

The bank itself doesn't even know the true value of the lost property, as customers don't have to declare the contents of their safety deposit boxes.

The caper took months to pull off, Niklison said, with the thieves renting the building near the bank in June 2010. Safe deposit boxes are a frequent target for thieves in Argentina because many people prefer them over bank accounts to house savings, following the country's 2001 financial crisis.

Bank officials didn't discover the robbery until they opened the vault Monday morning. Later in the day, hundreds of clients had gathered near the bank in protest, demanding that their savings be recovered and returned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio