SAPPORO – A winter storm continued to batter wide areas of Hokkaido and Tohoku on Friday, leading to the death of one man and significant transportation disruptions.
A strong low pressure system caused a blizzard, and some areas in Hokkaido saw snowfall of more than 50 centimeters over the 24-hour period through Friday morning.
The harsh weather forced airlines to cancel more than 100 flights to and from the two regions, and Hokkaido Railway Co. halted about 500 trains as of 5 p.m. A number of services on the Tohoku, Yamagata and Akita shinkansen lines were also canceled.
The man who died, Chihiro Tsutsui, was found by police early Friday in a forest in the city of Tomakomai, Hokkaido. The cause of death was hypothermia, the police said.
Tsutsui, a 28-year-old road services worker, entered a forestry road in the city with two colleagues to help move a car, driven by a 27-year-old reporter, that got stuck on Thursday due to the blizzard. But their vehicle also got stuck when they were about to reach the scene. The three went missing after they began their search on foot, the police said.
The reporter, with NHK’s Tomakomai bureau, was in the area alone to hunt deer while on holiday, the broadcaster said. The reporter — who had called the road services company for help — and the two other workers were later rescued. About 1.5 meters of snow had fallen in the area, police said.
While northern regions were hit by stormy weather, Tokyo and other areas of the country saw strong spring winds and unseasonably warm temperatures on Thursday.