• Kyodo, Jiji

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About 90 vehicles were temporarily stranded in the early hours of Friday on an expressway due to heavy snow in central Japan, police and the expressway operator said.

Until Friday morning, sections of the Hokuriku Expressway were closed between Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures on the Sea of Japan coast in the wake of the backup, according to Central Nippon Express Co.

A trailer truck became disabled on the highway, bringing traffic behind it to a halt in Ishikawa Prefecture near the prefectural border, the police said.

Parts of the Japanese archipelago have seen massive amounts of snow, disrupting local traffic and resulting in many snow-related accidents.

In Akita Prefecture, around 10 vehicles were stranded amid heavy snow on Thursday night. There were no reports of injuries, according to police.

Self-Defense Forces personnel remove snow from the roof of an elementary school in Yokote, Akita Prefecture, on Thursday. | KYODO
Self-Defense Forces personnel remove snow from the roof of an elementary school in Yokote, Akita Prefecture, on Thursday. | KYODO

Heavy snow in the prefecture had claimed the lives of 13 people as of Wednesday.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, snowfall stood at 150 centimeters in the city of Yokote and 134 cm in the city of Yuzawa, with the amounts almost four times the levels in normal years, according to the local observatory. Both cities are located in the southern part of the prefecture.

According to the Akita Prefectural Police, 97 people suffered injuries due to the heavy snow, on top of the 13 deaths. Some of them were hit by blocks of snow falling from roofs, while others sustained injuries by falling from roofs themselves.

Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake has requested the dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Force troops to the prefecture for dealing with the risk of collapsing houses and other buildings.

Dispatched GSDF members worked to remove snow at the homes of older people and at wooden elementary schools in Yokote, Yuzawa and the town of Ugo.

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