• Kyodo

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The Meteorological Agency is warning of heavy snow and traffic disruptions in areas facing the Sea of Japan through Monday, with the winter weather already having stranded more than 1,000 motorists in Toyama and Fukui prefectures over the weekend.

The two prefectures, as well as Niigata, on Sunday requested dispatches of the Self-Defense Forces to help with snow removal.

About 200 vehicles were stuck near an interchange on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday, while another 830 remained stranded in other sections of the expressway, Central Nippon Expressway Co. said.

Another 200 vehicles became stranded in Toyama Prefecture after a large truck was stopped on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway. About 50 GSDF members helped with rescue work at the scene, the prefectural government said.

A 25-year-old woman and a 44-year-old man who were stuck in their cars became ill and were transported to hospitals, according to local rescue workers.

West Japan Railway Co. suspended some services between Tokyo and Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. Other express train services were also halted between Kanazawa and Osaka and between Kanazawa and Nagoya.

The Meteorological Agency called for caution, anticipating further traffic disruptions due to snowfall and frozen roads. It said heavy snow is expected from northern to western regions on the Sea of Japan coast through Monday morning.

In the 72 hours through 11 a.m. Sunday, Joetsu in Niigata Prefecture received 184 centimeters of snow, Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture got 162 cm, and 140 cm of snow was dumped on Ono, Fukui Prefecture.

About 500 people, including residents and ski resort visitors, were stranded in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture, as a prefectural road was blocked by heavy snow, according to prefectural officials. But there have been no reports of injury or illness and electricity and water services were continuing as usual, they said.

In the 24 hours through 6 a.m. Monday, the weather agency expects up to 80 cm of snow in parts of the Hokuriku region, 50 cm in the Tohoku region and 40 cm in the Tokai and Kansai regions.

An 81-year-old man was found dead in Toyama. He had told his family on Friday he would go outside to clear snow in front of the house.

In Obihiro, Hokkaido, a 78-year-old man was found collapsed under the roof of his house on Saturday and was later confirmed dead at a hospital. Police believe the man fell from the roof while clearing snow as a shovel was found near him and some snow was seen removed from the roof.

Vehicles are stranded on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday. | CENTRAL NIPPON EXPRESSWAY CO. / VIA KYODO
Vehicles are stranded on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday. | CENTRAL NIPPON EXPRESSWAY CO. / VIA KYODO
Workers clear the snow in front of Toyama Station in the city of Toyama on Sunday. | KYODO
Workers clear the snow in front of Toyama Station in the city of Toyama on Sunday. | KYODO
People walk in the heavy snow in the city of Toyama on Sunday. | KYODO
People walk in the heavy snow in the city of Toyama on Sunday. | KYODO
Hundreds of vehicles are stranded due to heavy snow on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday. | KYODO
Hundreds of vehicles are stranded due to heavy snow on the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday. | KYODO

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