Heavy snowfall wreaks havoc in Japan as cold snap sweeps through Asia

Heavy snowfall wreaks havoc in Japan as cold snap sweeps through Asia

TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Reuters) – Heavy snow blanketed large parts of Japan on Wednesday, causing traffic to sob, canceling hundreds of flights, disrupting train travel and killing at least one person.

An unusually cold weather front and extreme low-pressure systems sent snowfall and strong winds blowing across Japan from Tuesday after wreaking havoc in other Asian countries earlier this week.

At least 124 people died in freezing temperatures in Afghanistan earlier this week, according to media reports, as temperatures in Mohe, China’s northernmost city, fell to a record -53 degrees Celsius (-63.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday .

In South Korea, the resort island of Jeju canceled nearly 500 flights to and from the airport on Tuesday due to harsh winter weather.

Japan reported that the snow was particularly heavy on the side of the country facing South Korea, hitting the city of Maniwa with a record high of 93 cm (36 in) in just 24 hours.

One person died as a result of the storm and two other deaths were under investigation in connection with the storm on Wednesday morning, cabinet chief Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference. Further details were not immediately available.

Domestic airlines including ANA (9202.T) and Japan Airlines (9201.T) canceled 450 flights, while 490 highway areas were blocked and 57 rail services, including a high-speed train, were suspended across the country, the transportation ministry said.

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T) said it suspended second shift at all 14 plants in Japan on Wednesday due to disruption from heavy snowfall across the country.

About 3,000 people have been stranded at two train stations in the western city of Kyoto after snow and strong winds forced service to be interrupted on Tuesday. Some passengers had to sleep on the floor in Kyoto Central Station. Others were stuck on at least 15 trains between stations, in some cases from late Tuesday to early Wednesday.

Strong winds related to the storm may have caused the sinking of a Hong Kong-registered freighter between western Japan and the South Korean island of Jeju on Wednesday. Thirteen of the 22 crew had been rescued by noon on Wednesday and the search continued. Read more .

The bitter weather is expected to last through Thursday.

Report by Kaori Kaneko, Sugiyama Satoshi and Elaine Lies in Tokyo and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul, written by Elaine Lies and Miyoung Kim Edited by Chang-Ran Kim, Kim Coghill and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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