Heavy snowfall in Japan leaves 17 dead and dozens injured

TOKYO (Reuters) – Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Japan has killed 17 people and injured more than 90 and left hundreds of homes without power, disaster management officials said on Monday.
Powerful winter fronts have dumped heavy snow in northern regions since last week, blocking hundreds of vehicles on highways, delaying delivery services and killing 11 people on Saturday. More snowfall on the Christmas weekend raised the death toll to 17 and injuries to 93 as of Monday morning, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Many of them had fallen while clearing snow from roofs or were buried under thick piles of snow sliding off roofs.
Municipal offices in snowy regions have urged residents to exercise caution during snow removal activities and not to work alone.
The disaster management agency said a woman in her 60s was found dead buried under a thick pile of snow on her roof that suddenly fell on her in the town of Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, around 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Tokyo, where snow piled up to more than 80 centimeters (2.6 feet) on Saturday.
In Niigata, known for growing rice, some makers of mochi or sticky rice cakes that are the staple of New Year’s meals said there had been delays in delivery and their mochi could fail to reach their customers on time.
Many areas in northeastern Japan reported three times their average snowfall for the season.
Heavy snowfall toppled an electricity transmission tower in Japan’s northernmost main island, leaving around 20,000 homes without power on Christmas morning, although power was restored to most regions later in the day, according to the Ministry of Economy and Industry.
Dozens of trains and flights were also suspended in northern Japan until Sunday, but services have since mostly resumed, according to the transport ministry.


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