A massive snowstorm hit Japan over the last days, killing 19 people and injuring more than 1,600, while it created general transport chaos, officials said on Monday.
At least 19 people have died in snow-related incidents after the record-breaking storm. The snowstorm is now heading to the northern island of Hokkaido, with Japan’s meteorological agency warning of heavy snow, blizzards and avalanches.
Roads and railway lines were blocked by snow, leaving over 6,900 people trapped in small communities, while petrol stations could not be supplied with gas.
People in Yamanashi prefecture west of Tokyo were left without fresh food as the stores faced a serious shortage. Shinzo Abe promised to solve the situation, according to the international press.
“We will do everything we can to protect the lives and possessions of people in cooperation with local governments and relevant ministries,” he said on Monday.
Hundreds of cars are still blocked on mountain roads, with drivers having no other choice but to wait for the clearing and rescue teams.
“Efforts to remove snow from the roads are continuing with Self-Defence Forces servicemen working from 7:00 am,” said an official at the Karuizawa ski resort in Nagano prefecture.
On Saturday, Tokyo had around 30 centimeters of snow, while Kofu in the Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, saw a record snowfall of 91 centimeters, the highest snow level measured in the last 120 years.