HomeWorld News1,000 drivers stuck in traffic jam after highway hit by heavy snow
1,000 drivers stuck in traffic jam after highway hit by heavy snow
1,000 drivers are stuck in 40-hour traffic jam after highway is hit by heavy snowstorm in Japan
Kanetsu Expressway traffic between Tokyo and Niigatas stretched 9.3 miles
Japan has been hit with record snowfall over the last week amid a cold snap
Drivers were forced to sleep in their cars with little food or water over night
More than 1,000 drivers have been stuck in a 40-hour traffic jam after a highway was hit by record snowfall in Japan.
Queues on the Kanetsu Expressway between Tokyo and Niigata first began on Wednesday but drivers continue to wait on the road today.
The road’s entrance was closed yesterday morning but drivers already on the highway were forced to sleep in their cars and lorries buried in the snow with little food or water.
Traffic began after a car got stuck in snow in the middle of the road, Japan’s highway operator NEXCO reported.
More than 1,000 drivers have been stuck in a 24-hour traffic jam after the Kanetsu Expressway between Tokyo and Niigata in Japan was hit by heavy snowstorms
The road’s entrance was closed yesterday morning but drivers already on the highway were forced to sleep in their cars and lorries buried in the snow with little food or water
A driver told NHK: ‘The snow was extremely heavy. As time went by, the cars got buried. I was really scared.
‘I’ve eaten all of my food and drinks. Now, to drink water, I have to melt snow I collect in a plastic bottle.’
The queues stretched to about 9.3 miles (15km) at their peak last night, according to NEXCO.
Some drivers were able to move slowly with starts and stops but others remained stuck in place for more than 40 hours, CNN reported.
Queues began on Wednesday and remain this morning. Niigata prefecture, famous for skiing, had a record 5.9ft (1.8m) of snow yesterday
Traffic coming from Tokyo eventually cleared but the lanes heading into the capital were still stagnant as of this morning.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said: ‘The government will do its utmost to rescue anyone who is stuck in their vehicle.’
Self-Defence Force troops delivered food, petrol and blankets and helped clear snow last night.
Fire service crews also rescued some drivers, including at least three people who were taken to hospital, according to public broadcaster NHK.
The traffic jam stretched to about 9.3 miles (15km) at its peak last night, according to NEXCO
As highway workers in hard-hit areas cleared snow several feet deep, the Meteorological Agency warned of heavier snow over the weekend along the Sea of Japan coast.
Some places are bracing for as much as 32 inches (80cm) of snow amid a cold snap that has affected much of the country.
The military was deployed yesterday to help residents trapped by the snowfall, with 10,000 homes losing power in the north and west of the country.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called an emergency cabinet meeting and urged the public to be cautious.
Self-Defence Force troops delivered food, petrol and blankets and helped clear snow last night
Over 72 hours, a record 7.12ft (2.17m) of snow fell in Minakami, Gunma prefecture, while Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture, famous for skiing, had a record 5.9ft (1.8m) of snow on Thursday morning.
Snow also fell in the temple city of Kyoto, producing images of delicate pagodas and famed shrines dusted with flakes that delighted social media.
Tsuyoshi Watanabe, a Niigata disaster management official, said he had asked for soldiers to help the vehicles stranded on the highway.
‘We are trying our best to rescue drivers and passengers… we are ready to continue our operation through the night,’ he said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (pictured on December 4) called an emergency cabinet meeting and urged the public to be cautious
He said a dozen people had been injured in snow-related accidents in Niigata in the last two days.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the storm was forecast to weaken temporarily but more snow was expected for the region over the weekend.
The cold snap comes as Japan battles a spike in coronavirus cases, even though it has had a relatively small outbreak overall and has avoided imposing strict lockdown measures.
The third wave of infections prompted Suga to urge people to avoid travel and has forced the first-ever cancellation of the Sapporo Snow Festival, whose intricate ice sculptures draw thousands every year.