13 dead, 250 injured as record snowfall blankets Japan

Tokyo, Jan 12 (IANS) At least 13 people died and around 250 others injured as record snowfall blanketed regions along the coast of the Sea of Japan coast, according to the latest report by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The agency said that three people aged in their 60s and 80s died in Fukui prefecture, while 47 people were injured in snow-linked accidents, reports Xinhua news agency.

Niigata prefecture reported four deaths as a result of trying to remove snow, the agency said.

In addition, 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 stranded during a blizzard recently.

Meanwhile, on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway in Toyama prefecture, more than 200 vehicles were stranded due to heavy snow, while 250 people were stuck on Niigata prefecture’s National Route 8.

Following the record snowfall, 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 will continued 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 cm 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 cm is expected, while Kyushu could see as much as 10 cm of snow, the agency said.

Kinki and Shikoku could also see up to 10 cm 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 cm, while in Toyama 114 cm was recorded and 90 cm in Fukui as of Monday evening.

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