Thursday, February 2, 2012

Death toll climbs to 55 as heavy snow grips Japan

Tokyo: Heavy snow that has blanketed northern Japan for weeks, triggering avalanches and affecting transport networks, has left at least 55 people dead, officials said on Thursday.

In one of the country's coldest winters in recent years, 43 people have died as they removed snow from roofs or roads, while seven more were crushed by heavy loads of snow falling from buildings or other structures, the disaster management agency said.

Four people have died in avalanches, with the latest snow slide reported in northern Akita prefecture at a popular mountain resort known for therapeutic hot-spring baths, which left three holidaymakers dead.

The 40-metre-wide (130 feet) avalanche crushed three tents near a naturally heated rock site Wednesday.

Local police and rescuers continued their search on Thursday "to confirm there are no others buried in the snow", a local police spokeswoman said. Read More