Tokyo, Feb 18 (): The record snowfall that hit eastern Japan over the weekend has killed 12 people, left more than 1,650 injured and has sparked widespread transport chaos.
Some 27cm of snow were dumped on Tokyo on Friday and Saturday, and several other cities stated record snowfall. Parts of Yamanashi region, west of Tokyo, witnessed more than a 1.1m of snow, the most the region has seen since records began in 1894.
Police said building were collapsed due to heavy snowfall. Roofs of buildings had collapsed under the weight of snow in some areas. While in Yamanashi prefecture, two men froze to death in separate incidents while trying to walk home from stranded cars and hundreds of drivers had been left stranded in miles-long traffic jams.
The deadly snowstorm left cars on the highway deserted and, in few cases, entire villages were cut off from transport due to snow-covered roads.
With hundreds were stuck in their vehicles, some towns opened up public buildings and provided free food and warmth, especially to drivers running out of fuel. With stuck up cars increasing the difficulties of the clean-up, many regions have asked for military help in digging up the roads.
Yamanashi was attacked by over 100 cm snow and 150 hotel guests in Fujikawaguchiko were cut off from help while some 1,000 vehicles remained stuck on roads. About 700 passengers were snow-trapped on trains on the JR Chuo Line since Friday.
Japanese car makers, including Honda and Toyota, were forced to suspend their operations after the heavy snow disturbed their supply chains and prevented workers from travelling. The national broadcaster NHK said more than 600 flights, mostly domestic, across the country were also cancelled.
It is the second major snowstorm to hit Japan in a week. Last week, Tokyo residents were cautioned of a severe snowstorm for the first time in more than a decade.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has cautioned with the storm heading towards north, sections of Northern island of Hokkaido have been given warning of heavy snowfall and avalanches.