The number of deaths caused by snow-related accidents recorded since December totaled 150, making it the third-worst winter in the postwar era in terms of people who died or disappeared because of heavy snowfall, the government said Friday.

The highest number of winter deaths and missing people since World War II was 231, recorded in 1963, followed by 152 in 1980-1981.

This winter, Niigata Prefecture had the highest death toll with 31 as of the end of March, followed by Akita Prefecture with 23, it said. The number of elderly people who fell victim during snow removal work or heart disease was remarkably high.

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