5 die, over 600 injured as heavy snow hits eastern Japan
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Heavy snow hit eastern Japan on Saturday, disrupting transportation systems and leaving five people dead and over 600 people injured in snow-related accidents, a Kyodo News tally showed.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the first heavy snowfall warning for central Tokyo in 13 years. Snow accumulation reached 26 centimeters there, the heaviest snow in the Japanese capital since February 1994 and the fourth largest snowfall since World War II, the agency said.
Several universities in Tokyo delayed the starting times of their entrance examinations for the new academic year that begins in April.
Snowfall marked a record 30 cm in Chiba and 16 cm in Yokohama.
Temperatures in many cities in the Kanto region centering on Tokyo stayed below zero during the day and the agency issued a blizzard warning for Chiba Prefecture and parts of Kanagawa Prefecture.
At Tokyo's Haneda airport, Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. suspended all domestic flights from noon and 3 p.m., respectively, affecting about 98,000 people.
The Tokaido and Sanyo bullet trains operating in central and western Japan fell behind schedule as they operated at reduced speed, affecting about 180,000 travelers, the operators said.
Sections of expressways, including the Shin-Tomei and Chuo expressways, were also closed due to the snow. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 48,000 households in the Kanto region were without power Saturday night due to heavy snow.
Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest broadcasting tower at 634 meters, was closed from 11 a.m. due to strong winds, its operator said.