14 fall off Gifu temple’s thatched roof

GIFU (Kyodo) Fourteen people fell the roof of a temple at the World Heritage site in the village of Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, on Sunday morning, and two of them were hospitalized, police said.

The accident occurred just after 8 a.m. while they were removing snow from the steep, thatched roof of Myozenji Temple. Fortunately, a layer of snow about a meter deep cushioned the impact of their roughly 5-meter fall, the police said.

Authorities issued a fresh warning for heavy snow across many parts of the nation the same day.

In Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture, Takeo Okada, 84, was found dead in the snow at around the same time after apparently slipping off the roof of his two-story house, the police said.

Okada, who lived alone, had asked a neighbor to help him remove snow from the roof. The 69-year-old neighbor went home around 4 p.m. Saturday after helping Okada, but Okada is believed to have kept shoveling after that, police said.

Meanwhile, in Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Mamoru Hasegawa, 70, was found unconscious Sunday in a ditch in front of his house and later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police suspect he accidentally slipped into the 1-meter-deep ditch while shoveling snow.

On Sunday morning, about 80 cm of snow had fallen in the area.