TOKYO (AP) : Heavy snowfall across vast swathes of Japan has killed 17 people, wounded over 90, and left hundreds of households without electricity, disaster management authorities said Monday.
Since last week, powerful winter fronts have dumped heavy snow in northern areas, stranding hundreds of vehicles on highways, disrupting delivery services, and caused 11 deaths as of Saturday. According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, more snowfall over the Christmas weekend increased the number of dead to 17 and the number of injured to 93 by Monday morning. Many had fallen while clearing snow from rooftops or were trapped behind high heaps of snow tumbling down rooftops.
Municipal authorities in snow-stricken areas asked citizens to exercise caution and refrain from working in the snow.
A woman in her 70s was discovered dead buried beneath a thick pile of rooftop snow that suddenly fell on her in Yamagata prefecture’s Nagai City, about 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of Tokyo, where snow piled up higher than 80 centimetres (2.6 feet) Saturday, according to the disaster management agency.
Some producers of mochi, or sticky rice cakes that are staples for New Year’s celebration dinners, in Niigata, noted for rice cultivation, stated there had been transportation delays and their mochi may not reach their customers in time.
Many regions of northern Japan received three times their season’s normal snowfall.
Heavy snow fell on an electric power transmission tower in Japan’s northernmost major island, knocking off power to nearly 20,000 houses on Christmas morning, however most areas were restored later that day, according to the business and industry ministry.
Several trains and aircraft were also stopped in northern Japan into Sunday, according to the transportation ministry, although services have now generally restored.