Skip to main content

Heavy snow claims eight lives in northern Japan

By Junko Ogura and Paul Armstrong, CNN
updated 7:41 PM EST, Mon March 4, 2013
Railway workers inspect a bullet train Sunday after it derailed during its journey from Tokyo to northern Japan.
Railway workers inspect a bullet train Sunday after it derailed during its journey from Tokyo to northern Japan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Woman and her children found dead in their snow-trapped car
  • Four other people in Hokkaido prefecture froze to death during weekend
  • High-speed train derailed in blizzard conditions in Akita prefecture

(CNN) -- Heavy snow in northern Japan claimed the lives of eight people over the weekend, while a blizzard forced a high-speed bullet train to derail.

In one incident, a woman and her three children were found dead on Saturday after becoming trapped in their car in Nakashibetsu, a town in eastern Hokkaido prefecture, police told CNN.

Authorities believe they died of carbon monoxide poisoning as the car's engine was left running and filled with exhaust fumes. The vehicle's exhaust pipe and windows were buried under snow.

A 23-year-old woman, also from Nakashibetsu, died Sunday after she was found collapsed on farmland near the town. Police said she had abandoned her car, which was found a few hundred meters away.

Elsewhere in the region, a 53-year-old man and his nine-year-old daughter were discovered unconscious after being buried in snow on farmland near Yubetsu in Monbetsu district. The father was pronounced dead at hospital, but his daughter is now conscious and does not have any life-threatening injuries, police said.

The two went missing after leaving their home Saturday afternoon in a truck to visit a friend of the father. Police and rescue workers found the truck on a road Saturday evening and the man and his daughter Sunday morning. According to local media, the father had covered his daughter with his body to try to warm her under heavy snow.

The bodies of two other men -- ages 74 and 54 -- were also found outside Sunday. They are believed to have gotten lost after leaving their snow-trapped cars, and police say the elder man froze to death; the other's man's death is under investigation.

Meanwhile, a six-car bullet train en route from Tokyo to Akita on the high-speed Akita Shinkansen line derailed on Saturday afternoon after the front wheels of the train's first car left the track in blizzard conditions near Daisen in Akita prefecture. Nobody on board was injured, and the service resumed on Monday, a spokesperson for operator JR East told CNN.

Local media reports said the train remained in the same spot for six hours in snowy weather with 130 passengers stranded inside.

Investigators from JR East are looking into the cause of the incident.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT