At least 13 people died and about 250 were injured as record snowfall blanketed regions along the Sea of Japan coast, the Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency said on Tuesday.
According to the agency and local media reports, three people aged in their 60s and 80s died in Fukui Prefecture, while 47 people were injured in the prefecture in snow-linked accidents. Niigata Prefecture saw four people die as a result of trying to remove snow, the agency said.
The three hard-hit prefectures’ officials have requested assistance from the Self-Defence Force (SDF) in rescue operations, local media said. Also, the bedlam caused by the snowfall that hit wide swathes of Japan also saw more than 1,200 vehicles on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture stranded during a blizzard recently.
Meanwhile, on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway in Toyama Prefecture, more than 200 vehicles were stranded in heavy snow, while 250 people became stuck on Niigata Prefecture’s National Route 8.
Following the record amount of snowfall recorded in areas along the Sea of Japan, the weather agency here has now forecast heavy snow for the Pacific side of the country.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA) has said that snowfall on the Pacific side would continue through Tuesday, due to a low-pressure system off the coast, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported.
According to the reports, snow is likely to blanket areas between the western Kyushu region and the eastern Kanto-Koshin regions. In mountainous regions, up to 20 centimeters of snow is forecast for 24 hours through Tuesday evening, in the Kinki, Tokai, and Shikoku regions, the JMA said.
While in the Kanto-Koshin and Chugoku regions, around 15 centimeters is expected, while Kyushu could see as much as 10 centimeters of snow, the agency said.
Kinki and Shikoku could also see up to 10 centimeters of snow, while snowfall in Kanto, including Tokyo, could reach 7 cm in some areas. The JMA has urged people to refrain from making non-essential outings and prepare winter tires or snow chains for vehicles in the affected areas. Caution is still advised on the Sea of Japan side where the snow remains deep in some areas.
In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture the depth of snow reached 229 centimeters, while in Toyama 114 cm was recorded and 90 cm in Fukui as of Monday evening.
The JMA has warned that traffic could remain disrupted, and the public should also be wary of avalanches and snow falling from roofs in areas already hit by heavy snow.
The JMA said more than 10 monitoring spots in regions along the Sea of Japan set snowfall records for 72 hours during the current cold snap. (Xinhua/NAN)