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Tiles buckle, shatter on Kokusai Street

Date Posted: 2009-04-16

Fire department investigators from Naha City are scratching their heads, trying to figure what caused a street paved with tiles to suddenly rattle, buckle and pop free of their adhesives.

When residents and business owners heard the eerie sounds about 2:24 p.m. Sunday, they first thought a water or gas main had exploded. Instead, thousands of ceramic tiles laid years ago over a concrete foundation on the street had broken free, echoing loudly as they reached up toward the sky, breaking apart.

Fire investigators summoned to the scene say it could be a case of temperature differences between the concrete base and the road tiles, but that they’re not sure. There’s a lot of water in concrete, and they think warm temperatures could have set the concrete to swelling, pushing the tiles upward. Officials stressed there are no water or gas pipes under the roadway where the tiles broke free.

“This area had the same accident about 20 years ago,” said a local resident, “and at that time the entire road was broken. Everybody was surprised about nature’s power.”

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