• Kyodo


Roughly 260 cars remained stranded on a snowy Route 8 on the Sea of Japan coast Thursday morning, with many people already having spent two nights in their vehicles.

The Ground Self-Defense Force said the Fukui Prefecture road could be clear by this evening, once its members finish plowing and removing snow in the area.

Some drivers went to a nearby public hall to sleep while others said they were exhausted because of the ordeal.

Yukiko Tanikawa, 21, who got stranded on her way to work on Tuesday morning, spent a sleepless night in the car, munching on rice balls that other drivers and Self-Defense Force members gave out.

Even though the SDF had plowed the snow around her car, the ongoing storm quickly negated their efforts. She said some drivers chose to walk home after asking nearby residents if they could leave their cars at their parking lots.

Tanikawa’s mother later came to stay in the car and Tanikawa made the 2 1/2 hour walk home.

“If this is not resolved, I need to go back again to take turns with my mother,” she said. “I hope the government and the SDF will cooperate with each other and remove the snow.”

A convenience store along the route mostly sold out of food as stranded individuals came to stock up.

Heavy snow started to block traffic Tuesday morning and at one point roughly 1,500 vehicles were stuck on a 10-kilometer stretch of the route.

The GSDF began removing snow that afternoon in response to a request for help by the Fukui Prefectural Government. Snow drifts hindered the GSDF from utilizing heavy machinery at first, and the plowing operation was only able to proceed at a very slow pace.

So far, 17 people have reported to emergency centers set up nearby with fatigue, but no serious health issues were found among them, according to the prefecture.

At least 13 people have been injured in Fukui, Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures, including some who fell from roofs while removing snow, according to local fire departments.

The snow has continued to disrupt other transport as well with West Japan Railway Co. deciding to cancel 88 trains Thursday, including the Thunderbird and Shirasagi limited express trains bound for or leaving Kanazawa.

Forty-two flights to and from Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa Prefecture were also canceled.

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