Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heavy snow leaves 53 dead, hundreds injured in North, West Japan

Image: A bridge in Sakae, Nagano Prefecture, thought to have collapsed because of heavy snow, is seen on Jan. 30. (Mainichi)

Heavy snow has left 53 dead and hundreds injured in several prefectures in western and northern Japan, it has been learned.

The loss of life came primarily in five prefectures along the Sea of Japan in the Tohoku region and Hokkaido, with 12 dead in Niigata, 11 in Hokkaido, nine in Aomori, eight in Nagano and six in Akita. Reported injuries have already surpassed 574, with over 100 in four of the five prefectures affected most by the strong cold air mass sweeping through the region.

Meanwhile, a number of municipalities blanketed by the heavy snow say they have run out of funds for snow removal, and have begun urgent calls on the central government for financial assistance.

According to Niigata Prefecture, the prefecture's 30 municipalities had budgeted a total of some 13 billion yen for snow removal, but that as of Jan. 23 at least 12 could no longer afford to keep clearing snow, forcing the prefectural government to step in with supplementary funds. Furthermore, six cities in the prefecture have tapped central governmental emergency aid under the Disaster Relief Act. Read More