Case Ditails

Case Name The fire disaster in the Tokyo-Nagoya Nihon-zaka tunnel.
Date July 11, 1979
Place Shizuoka Prefect..
Location In Tokyo-Nagoya High Way downgrade line, in the Nihon-zaka tunnel.
Overview On July 11 th 1979, around 18:40,down line of the Tokyo-Nagoya highway, in Nihon-zaka tunnel , at the place 400m inside from the exit, a Fire disaster related to the collision of vehicles(4 big trucks and 2 small passenger cars) broke out and the fire expanded to the following cars. Due to this disaster, 7 persons died because of the fire of the cars, 2 persons were injured, and 173 cars were burnt, break down of the tunnel itself and break down of the fire extinguish equipments had occured. And in addition, the major transportation was shut down temporally, big confuse of the transportation network had driven.
Incident Around 18:40 July 11 th 1979, on the down line of the Tokyo-Nagoya Highway , Nihonzaka-Tunnel,(2045m's length), the place 400m from the exit of Yaizu-side , A big truck of Osaka number collided the big truck of Nagoya number from behind, and following passenger cars also collided , and another big truck collided from behind. It was thought that A fire had broke out from the passenger car, and it expanded to all 5 trucks and cars ,then the inside of the tunnel was filled with black smoke.
The driver on the car behind the accident place made his car go back, he made the space at leaset 70m from the fire , but the fire expanded and the folloing cars including his car were burnt completely.
Sequence In truck and cars involved in the fire, there were 3 drivers of passenger car and 1 driver of truck. The drivers of the cars following tried to rescue them, but it was impossible because of the rushing fire and smoke. So they walked to the Nihon-zaka Parking area 3km from the accident plase,informed the break-out of the accident there.
Cause The second big truck(B)( please see Figure 1) collided the first truck(A) from behind, and following two passenger cars (C),(D) collided to the truck(B) one by one. And , the sixth truck(F) collided the fifth truck(D) with about 100km speed.Because of these circumstance, the passenger cars were crushed among the trucks,then the cruck was made on the gasoline tank, fire and an exposion was occurred due to the short of the electric circuit.
The cause of the first collision was the sudden break of the truck(A) due to the lateness of the traffic jam,and it stopped touching a van and truck ahead of it.
The cause of this traffic jam was the small accident of two truck's collison close to the Yaizu-exit.These two went away soon,but a traffic jam was generated aroud the exit.And then , the truck(A) made a sudden break 100m after this traffic jam,and following truck(B) collided truck(A) from behinde. In addition, before thisaccident,a traffic accident was occurred in this tunnnel close to Sizuoka-side. After the occurrance of the accident, the alert on the entrance was activated, but about 80 cars and truck entered into the tunnel after that activation.The emergence action of the highway accident goes on the minutes and seconds.
Response This accident was occurred in the tunnel that has the disaster-prevention facility of A rank.The action of the administration offices related to this accident are folloing.
18:39 car accident was recognized. 18:39 From the emergency call in the tunnel to the Control office in Kawasaki, an infomation was made that a car fire accident had occurred.And then it was also informed to the fire fighting office of Sizuoka.At the same time, on the controll office of Sizuoka also recongnize the alert bell and the Fire occurrance alert, and the Fire on the ITVsystem. Each fire prevention faccilities were operated following order.*Showed "Do not enter" alert on the alert board of the entrance.*Activated the sprinklers ,and all lights, ventilation fans. Around 19:05 ITV disorder,and lights disorder was shown in the controll. After this time, only the ventilation fan for the escape was working . Other facilities ,lights,fire extinguishers, were broken because of the cable burn down, fuse blown out ets.. Around 19:45 Pump was rebooted by hand in the east ventilation tower. Around 19:50 Patroll car had arrived. Escape leading was started.Around 20:05 170t water in the main tank was exhausted.Around21:30 208 drivers of the car in the tunnel were rescued into the Sizuoka controll office.
Countermeasures From 7/14 , research of the accident had started and improvement of the fire extiguish faclities and the regulations inside the tunnel was started.These operation was completed around 8/8 to 9/5.For the electric circuit of a quarter of lights, escape leading lights, and sprinklers, fire-proof cable were installed.this was not the observance of the reguration of that day,but in this case, drastically installed.*10 water taps for fire extiguishment was installed per 200m. Before this accident, these were installed only on the entrance and exit.*Self-powered Exit light(it can shine 30 minutes after the power cut) for 3 places, escape leading lights for 8 places were installed.*2 Alert boards 700m ahead of the entrance and entrance were installed. In the regulation, 1 alert boaed 200m ahead of the entrance was enough.*the speed in the tunnel was fixed 70km/h.*Road change in the tunnel turned to be prohibited.*Space confirmation board and it on the road.*For the alert, thin pavement on the entrance.
Knowledge Comment This vehicle accident was not occurred and much smaller if the truck and cars keep the space ,and if the following cars obeyed the alert on the entrance.Thinking about the circumstance that there are a lot of trucks that contains dangerous materials that has inflammablity,there is a limitation of the prevention of all of the accident by improving the fire prevention facilities.In fact ,this accident has occurred in the A ranked fire prevention tunnel. In addition to the hardware side of the fire prevention, the software side of it(inspiring their sense of cautions.. etc)is alse important.
Background The overconfidence for the A-ranked fire prevention system.
Sequel Provided that the forwarding company that has cars burnt in the tunnel undertake the default for the convey contract , the company recompense for the loss of goods.Abd then, the company could get 23million and 362hundred-thousand and 9370 yen because of the acquisition(By civil law 423) of the claim for damage(By Automobile Liability Security Law 2-1) toward highway-related public corporations as the individual at fault that the cargo owner got.(Nagoya local court 3/13 1990) and the appeal court supported this conclusion(Tokyo general court 6/24 1993).
Reason for Adding to DB It is the disaster which remains in the disaster history in Japan, and we must not let it happen any more.
Primary Scenario Carelessness, Insufficient Precaution, Poor Concept, Poor Strategy or Concept, Malicious Act, Rule Violation, Bad Event, Electrical Failure, Failure, Large-Scale Damage, Bodily Harm, Harm to Physical Well-being, Bodily Harm, Injury, Bodily Harm, Death, Damage to Society, Social Systems Failure, Failure, Fracture/Damage
Sources National Diet Library.
Number of Deaths 7
Number of Injuries 2
Physical Damage Damage of burning up rolling stock of 173, damage of the tunnel main body and most of the fire protection system are damaged by fire.
Field Civil Engineering
Author HORIKAWA, Kenichi (The University of Tokyo)