Northern Japan: Snow piles deep, strands vehicles, 3 Dead

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TOKYO (AP) — Heavy snow in northwestern Japan since the weekend has left at least three people dead, stranded hundreds of vehicles on highways, disrupted trains and left thousands of homes without electricity, officials said Wednesday.

The powerful weather system brought heavy snow to Japan’s northern coastal areas since Saturday, with snow piling up more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) in parts of Niigata, Yamagata and Aomori prefectures.

Self-Defense Force soldiers helped clear Niigata roads, where hundreds were stranded in long lines of more than 20km (12 miles). They also provided other support. Local volunteers helped provide food and other necessities to the people trapped inside their vehicles for hours.

Road closures were lifted Tuesday because of improved weather conditions. However another snowstorm will be affecting the region this weekend.

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, over 10,000 homes, mostly located in Niigata, were still without power on Wednesday morning. Convenience stores delivery was delayed because of blocked roads.

Three people were killed and 10 more injured by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. After removing snow in Kashiwazaki (Niigata), an 85-year-old man fell into a ditch and died. According to reports and officials, a Hokkaido woman aged 63 was killed when she fell between two trucks that were trying to remove the snow. A 73-year old man died in Akita after he fell while trying to remove the rooftop snow.

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