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This winter has so far seen 45 snow-related deaths, a pace similar to the 2005-2006 season when the second-highest postwar toll was logged, a government agency said Friday.

The government urged caution as people aged 65 and above account for 60 percent of the deaths, which occurred in 11 prefectures between Nov. 1 and Wednesday, according to the Fire Disaster Management Agency.

Of the total, 27 people died of accidents while removing snow, including those falling while shoveling snow from rooftops, nine were buried under accumulated snow and avalanches claimed a further six.

According to the agency, 193 other people sustained serious injuries in accidents due to heavy snowfall, while another 270 people were slightly injured.

By prefecture, Hokkaido saw the largest number of snow-related deaths, at 12, followed by eight in Niigata, five in Tottori and four each in Yamagata and Fukui.

Since the end of the war, a record 228 people were killed due to snowy conditions in January 1963, followed by 152 between December 2005 and March 2006.

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