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 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 1:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
updated 9:42 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
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 12:20 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 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