Rescuers free guests in resort area who were stranded due to snow, fallen trees

Kyodo

Most of the 250 guests and employees who were stranded beginning Friday at a spa resort in Nagano Prefecture when trees there knocked down by heavy snow blocked routes to the area have now been evacuated.

A route to the prestigious Tobira Onsen Myojinkan inn had been blocked, leaving about 120 guests and staffers there and at a nearby spa facility cut off.

Late on Saturday, though, the guests were able to leave after rescuers cleared a walking path through the snow and trees. They walked about 2 kilometers on foot to reach a waiting bus.

“We were relieved to be able to evacuate without much trouble even though there were small children,” said Emi Ikeda, 39, the inn’s spokeswoman.

Another road leading to a hotel in the area was also blocked, leaving 110 people stranded. They were also able to evacuate after a path was cleared.

The Matsumoto Municipal Government had been trying to remove the trees, but city officials said they were having difficulty.

Hotels and spa facilities in the Iriyamabe hot-spring resort were without electricity. No injuries were reported among the stranded, the officials said.

People were forced to warm themselves with wood stoves and by other means.

Municipal authorities are trying to confirm the condition of at least 12 households in the area that are believed to be cut off.

Elsewhere, more than 20 residents in the neighboring village of Yamagata have been cut off because a route to the area has become impassable, village officials said.