Hundreds of cars stuck in snow-hit Japan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 February, 2014, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 8:34am

Hundreds of cars were yesterday stuck on a hillside trunk road north of Tokyo after it was hit by a snowstorm heading north.

The snowstorm killed three people, grounded more than 100 flights and disrupted road and rail transport on Friday and Saturday.

It was now moving northward, Japan's meteorological agency said, warning of heavy snow, storms and snowslides as well as high waves in eastern and northern Japan.

National Route 18 that runs through Gunma and Nagano prefectures north of Tokyo was partly closed as hundreds of cars and trucks were stuck due to heavy snow, an official said.The congestion extended for several kilometres, said an official in the ski resort of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture.

"We have opened up three community halls nearby for people who were inside the stuck cars, and are now preparing to offer hot meals," he said.

"Some drivers have run out of gasoline so they need temporary shelter."

Up to 250 cars are stuck on the road.

The temperature fell as low as minus 3.6 degrees Celsius early yesterday in Karuizawa, with accumulated snow about 90 centimetres deep, the weather agency said.

Congestion extended for 30 kilometres on National Route 4 that runs through the northern prefectures of Fukushima and Miyagi.

The transport ministry has started delivering emergency aid including water and portable toilets to drivers of stuck cars.

Snow began falling on Friday morning in Tokyo and had piled up to 26 centimetres by early Saturday, a week after the heaviest snowfall in decades left 11 people dead and 1,200 injured.

Most snow in the capital had melted thanks to rain late.

But forecasters predict more snow again in the region around Tokyo later this week.