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14 Killed in Collapse in Hiroshima

March 14, 1991

TOKYO (AP) _ A 40-ton section of an elevated monorail under construction in Hiroshima fell today and crushed vehicles waiting at a traffic light below, killing 14 people, police said.

Nine people were injured by the 213-foot section of the monorail’s horizontal frame, which wrecked 11 vehicles, police official Kiyomitsu Umakoshi said.

The steel girder was being moved by construction workers when it slipped off a support column and fell, Umakoshi said.

″I saw about four or five cars ahead of me get crushed,″ a woman driver whose car was hit said in a nationally televised interview.

Police and construction workers spent several hours removing the girder from the crushed cars so they could get at the victims, Umakoshi said.

Television news showed the twisted line of cars, many with flattened roofs and passenger compartments. Some were smashed to less than half a yard in height.

Rescue workers used power tools to remove trapped victims as horrified bystanders watched.

Five of the dead and three of the injured were construction workers who had been working at the top of the support column, Umakoshi said.

Police were questioning workers to see if improper procedures had been used in moving the girder and to determine why they had not stopped traffic on the road below, he added.

The monorail is being built to link the western Japanese city’s downtown area with stadiums for the 1994 Asian Games. Construction of the 11 -mile monorail began in September.

The Japan Broadcasting Corp. said it was the third major accident in Japan involving falling girders at construction sites.

Four people died in 1972 and five in 1984 when girders slipped during road construction in the Tokyo area, and two people died in 1987 in an accident during the construction of a highway in Kobe, it said.

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