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SERVICES 
Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 18:47 GMT
Inside the Mont Blanc tunnel
As the Mont Blanc tunnel reopens to cars nearly three years after the devastating fire, BBC News Online looks at some of the tunnel's new safety features.


The inquiry into the devastating fire in 1999 led to a radical reassessment of safety needs in the Mont Blanc tunnel.

Among other measures, the tunnel has now had fire-resistant sheeting fitted to its walls. More traffic lights and flashing warning signs have been added.

Tunnel disasters
March 1999: 39 people killed after fire engulfs Mont Blanc tunnel
May 1999: 12 people die in fire, Tauern tunnel, Austria
June 2000: 56 people die in rail tunnel crash near Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze
November 2000: 155 people killed in funicular railway tunnel fire near Kaprun in Austria
October 2001: 10 people killed in Gotthard tunnel fire, Switzerland

Concrete-lined emergency shelters - 37 in total - have been built at intervals of 300 metres.

Each is pressurised and fitted with fireproof doors and a video link to one of three command posts.

A total of 116 smoke extractors - one every 100 metres have been fitted - while 76 new fresh air vents have been created.

Heat sensors at both ends of the tunnel to detect overheated trucks before they enter the tunnel.

Firefighting truck, Mont Blanc
Firefighting equipment has been rigorously tested
And 120 video cameras will monitor traffic at all times.

The tunnel now has three command posts. The main one is located on the French side, with a back-up centre at the Italian end.

A central command post will be manned round the clock by a firefighting team.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Europe
Tunnel protest as delays drag on
21 Dec 01 | Europe
Swiss tunnel re-opens after fire
21 Dec 01 | Europe
Jury out on Gotthard tunnel
26 Oct 01 | Europe
France proposes one-way tunnels
25 Oct 01 | Europe
Analysis: Alpine road v rail
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