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 10:39 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
updated 11:56 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT