Heavy Snow Traps a Thousand Motorists on Japanese Highway


At least 670 vehicles were stranded on a long stretch of highway north of Tokyo which connects to Niigata due to heavy snow leaving thousands of people trapped.

Rescue personnel have distributed food, fuel, and blankets to the drivers on the Kanetsu expressway as they struggled to clear the roads.

Most of those stuck in the pileup were forced to stay overnight inside their vehicles as heavy equipment and road workers tried to clear the snowdrifts blocking the road.

“We are trying our best to rescue drivers and passengers, we are ready to continue the operation through the night,” said a Niigata disaster management official.

According to the Nippon Expressway Company (NEXCO), the traffic jam started after a trailer truck got stuck in deep snow in the middle of the highway.

NEXCO said the traffic jam reached up to 16.5km along the road at one point.

The Japanese government announced that they have set up a task force and held an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said members of the SDF were deployed to Niigata after a request from Gov. Hideyo Hanazumi and warned citizens to prepare for dangerous traffic conditions and harsh weather. 

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