Heavy snow in Japan leaves at least 17 dead

Fox News reports that recent heavy snowfall has led to the death of at least 17 people and the injury of at least 93 others in Japan.

These numbers were provided by Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency on Monday morning.

What’s going on?

Last week, strong winter storms began dropping large amounts of snow on the northern regions of Japan. This continued during the Christmas weekend, and forecasts suggest that it will also continue this week.

ABC News reports:

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.

Some regions of Japan are seeing well above their average snowfall. The northeastern region, for example, is reported to have already experienced three times their average snowfall for the entire season.

As would be expected, the snow has had a crippling effect on transportation and delivery service.

It also has caused a large number of power outages. On Christmas morning, for example, around 20,000 people lost power after the heavy snow knocked down an electric power transmission tower. This power was mostly restored on that same day.

The death toll

On Saturday, Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency put the death toll at 11. But, by Monday, the number had already grown to 17, with nearly 100 injuries.

It appears that many of the deaths and injuries are actually resulting from snow removal. NPR reports, “many of them had fallen while removing snow from the roofs or were buried underneath thick piles of snow sliding off rooftops.”

The outlet goes on to provide examples, writing:

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 180 miles north of Tokyo, where snow piled up higher than 2.6 feet Saturday.

It is for this reason that officials are now providing snow removal safety information to the people of Japan in order to try to prevent further injury and death.

The latest on the U.S. storm

While all of this has been going on in Japan, the United States has also been experiencing its own winter storm that impacted a large portion of the country, including the Great Lakes region, which was hit particularly hard.

The latest reports indicate that the U.S. storm has now claimed the lives of at least 57 people.

This figure, however, is still expected to grow.