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Japan supercars in $4 million highway pile-up

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Speeding was fingered as a possible cause Monday of what is believed to be Japan’s most expensive ever road accident when up to $4 million-worth of supercars ended up in a crumpled heap on a highway.

Eight Ferraris and a Lamborghini — plus a Toyota Prius — were among the vehicles involved in the crash, which witnesses said happened when a speeding car slid across a wet road surface.

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Television footage showed mangled Ferraris — many of them racing red — and debris spread over some 400 metres (yards) of the east-bound side of the Chugoku Expressway, the main trunk road in southern Honshu.

A pack of about 20 supercars was travelling in convoy on Sunday morning on a stretch of wet highway when the leading Ferrari slid into a guardrail, police said.

Those behind slammed on their brakes, but for many of them it was apparently too late.

“I’ve never seen such a thing,” highway patrol lieutenant Eiichiro Kamitani told AFP by telephone. “Ferraris rarely travel in such large numbers.”

Kamitani said 10 people — five men and five women — sustained slight injuries, in the accident. “It is highly possible that they were driving in couples.”

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“Many of them were probably on their way to Hiroshima,” some 130 kilometres (80 miles) to the east, for a gathering of supercars there, said Kamitani.

“Speeding was possible but we have yet to determine the exact cause,” he added.

The Prius and a second Toyota also caught up in the 14-car smash were not thought to be part of the supercar pack. The three other vehicles involved in the accident were all Mercedes-Benz.

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An unidentified male eyewitness told the TBS network: “A group of cars was doing 140-160 kilometres (85-100 miles) per hour. One of them spun and they all ended up in this great mess.”

The speed limit on that section of the highway was 80 kilometres per hour.

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“The front car crashed into the left embankment and bounced off toward me,” another man told public broadcaster NHK.

One of the Ferraris was reported to be a F430 Scuderia, a model with a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour.

Kamitani said the lead Ferrari was being driven by a 60-year-old self-employed man from Chikushino, near Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu.

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Japanese media said the total cost of the pile-up could run to 300 million yen ($3.8 million), with new Ferraris retailing at more than 20 million yen each and Lamborghinis costing anything up to 30 million yen.

Supercars are not necessarily owned by the super-rich in Japan. Many owners are young people who save up their earnings to satisfy their dream, according to media.


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Blast damages hospital near biggest US base in Afghanistan

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At least one person was killed and dozens wounded when a bomb exploded close to the largest US military base in Afghanistan Wednesday, damaging homes and a hospital under construction near Bagram Airfield, officials said.

The attack -- which has not yet been claimed -- comes as Washington resumed talks with the Taliban on Saturday, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end America's longest war.

"The explosion happened in front of the gate of the Korean hospital which is almost adjacent to Bagram airfield," Parwan governor spokeswoman Wahida Shahkar said, referring to the US airbase located north of Kabul, in Parwan province.

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The ‘War on Christmas’ was started more than 500 years ago — by Christians

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If it feels like the “War on Christmas” is getting really old, it is. Almost 15 years have passed since Bill O’Reilly first opened December with a segment called, “Christmas Under Siege”—ten long years in which his cadences and refrains and echoing chorus have become as familiar to most Americans as Handel’s Messiah. More familiar, in fact.

Not that O’Reilly invented the idea. During the 1920’s, Henry Ford’s newspaper published a series of anti-Semitic articles titled, “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.” Among the complaints:

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US accused of seeking climate funding waiver at UN talks

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The United States was accused Wednesday of using crunch UN talks to avoid compensating poorer nations hit by climate change, despite its decision to leave the process to limit global warming.

Delegates and observers at the COP25 negotiations in Madrid told AFP that Washington was pushing for a change in the rules of the UN climate convention that could let history's largest emitter largely off the hook when it comes to so-called "loss and damage" funding for developing nations.

Under the bedrock UN climate treaty, adopted in 1992, rich nations agreed to shoulder more responsibility for curbing global warming, and to help developing countries prepare for unavoidable future impacts -- the twin pillars of "mitigation" and "adaptation".

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