Three dead, 89 injured in Japan storm

SEVERE STORM WARNING::A snowstorm struck Tokyo and other areas in Japan yesterday, and residents have been urged not to go outdoors unless necessary

AFP, TOKYO

Sun, Feb 09, 2014 - Page 4

Heavy snow and severe weather struck Tokyo and other areas across Japan yesterday, leaving three people dead and about 90 injured, reports said.

More than 600 flights were grounded as Japan’s weather agency issued a severe storm warning for the capital. As much as 12cm of snow was recorded yesterday afternoon in Tokyo, with a rapidly developing low pressure front heading toward eastern Japan, the meteorological agency said.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said at least 89 people were injured in snow-related accidents in eastern Japan, including 17 serious injuries, adding that two female passengers, aged 88 and 90, died yesterday in a car accident on their way to a nursing home in Ishikawa in central Japan. Police suspect one of the cars skidded on the icy road and caused the head-on clash. A man was also killed in Nagano as a train smashed into his car at a railroad crossing, the broadcaster said, adding that 3,200 other accidents occurred across the nation caused by vehicles skidding in the icy conditions. Further snowfall was expected yesterday afternoon and today in Tokyo, with a total of up to 20cm of snow expected, the weather agency said.

The agency issued a heavy snow warning for Tokyo, the first such warning for the capital in 13 years, calling on residents not to go out unless necessary. The agency also warned of strong winds and high waves in eastern Japan.

Japanese airline companies canceled at least 615 flights yesterday due to heavy snow, NHK said.

Airports in the western cities of Hiroshima and Kagawa were closed as operators were removing snow from the runways. Television footage showed hundreds of passengers queuing for reimbursement or a change of flights at Tokyo’s Haneda airport with departure boards indicating the cancellation of many flights. Employees were hurriedly removing snow from the pavement in front of their shops and restaurants in Tokyo’s bustling Ginza district.

Railway operators temporarily suspended services of Shinkansen bullet trains in western Japan, NHK added.

About 3,400 households lost power in Tokyo and its vicinities “because of the heavy snow and other reasons,” a Tokyo Electric Power spokesman said.

Some sections of expressways in central Japan were closed due to the snow. In Tokyo, several universities delayed the starting times of their entrance examinations for the new academic year starting in April.