Japan hit by deadly heavy snows

Japan hit by deadly heavy snows
Many deaths caused by people falling from roofs or being buried underneath thick piles of snow sliding off rooftops

Heavy snow in large parts of Japan has killed 17 people and injured more than 90 while leaving hundreds of homes without power, disaster management officials have said.

Powerful winter fronts have dumped heavy snow in northern regions since last week, stranding hundreds of vehicles on highways, delaying delivery services and causing 11 deaths by Saturday.

More snowfall over the Christmas weekend brought the number of dead to 17 and injured to 93 by Monday morning, according to the disaster management agency.

Many of them had fallen while removing snow from roofs or were buried underneath thick piles of snow that slid off rooftops.

Municipal offices urged residents to use caution when removing snow and not to work alone.

The disaster management agency said a woman in her 70s was found dead buried underneath a thick pile of rooftop snow that suddenly fell on her in Yamagata prefecture's Nagai city, about 300km (180 miles) north of Tokyo, where snow piled up higher than 80cm (2.6 feet) on Saturday.

Many parts of north-eastern Japan reported three times their average snowfall for the season.

Heavy snow knocked down an electric power transmission tower in Japan's northernmost main island, leaving about 20,000 homes without power on Christmas morning, though electricity was restored in most areas later that day, according to the economy and industry ministry.

Dozens of trains and flights were suspended in northern Japan through Sunday, but services had since mostly resumed, according to the transportation ministry.

In Niigata, known for rice growing, some makers of mochi - sticky rice cakes that are staple for new year celebration meals - said there were delivery delays and their mochi may not reach customers in time.

Source: AP