Skip to main content

19 dead in record Japan snowfall

By Euan McKirdy, for CNN
updated 11:10 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Death toll from snowstorm hits 19
  • Latest storm comes days after heaviest snow in decades
  • Major transport disruptions in parts of Japan
  • 365 injured by heavy snowfall

(CNN) -- Japan was hit by record snowfall again this weekend as several prefectures in the eastern part of the country reported deaths as well as severe transport delays and disruptions.

The Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency has confirmed at least 19 deaths caused by the snowstorm across northeast Japan. At least 365 are reported to be injured from incidents caused directly by the heavy snow.

Elderly residents in Oyama in Shizuoka Prefecture were stranded in their homes following a snow dump of more than three feet (1 meter) on Friday.

Other isolated communities were also cut off, with more than 5,000 households inaccessible due to blocked roads in some mountainous areas of Yamanashi, Nagano, Saitama and Gunma prefectures as well as western Tokyo, according to the Cabinet Office.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set up emergency disaster task force to deal with the damage caused by the snow fall, according to his office. On Tuesday morning he ordered the relevant government departments to take all possible measures to avoid "anybody freez[ing] to the death due to the isolation" and to make the utmost effort "to restore lifelines and clear the roads" in those areas which are cut off.

Tokyo experienced just under a foot (27cm) of snow over the weekend, days after the capital had experienced its heaviest snowfall in decades. A highway connecting Gunma and Nagano prefectures was closed, stranding hundreds of drivers, and the national broadcaster NHK said over 600 flights, mostly domestic, across the country were also canceled.

Police said building collapses accounted for several fatalities, while in Yamanashi prefecture two men froze to death in separate incidents while trying to walk home from stranded cars.

A commuter train collision at a station on the outskirts of Tokyo was also attributed to the snow by railway operator Tokyu Corp. Around 20 passengers were left with minor injuries in the incident.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has raised advisories for much of the country, and with the storm heading northwards, sections of northern island of Hokkaido have been placed under warning of heavy snowfall and avalanches.

WATCH: Misawa Snow Day iReport

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Junko Ogura in Tokyo contributed to this story

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:21 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
updated 9:15 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
updated 5:36 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
updated 2:35 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
updated 1:47 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:54 PM EST, Fri November 28, 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