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Travel chaos as heavy snow hits Japan

Staff Writer |
While Ausgtralia is on fire, heavy snowfall continued in a wide area along the Sea of Japan coast on Saturday.

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That was leading to the death of a truck driver and stranding a train and some 250 motor vehicles in Tottori Prefecture, authorities said.

Early Saturday in the city, 44-year-old Yoshio Miake died after becoming trapped under a tire of his large truck when he was trying to free it from snow at an intersection, police said.

Over the 24-hour period through 6pm Sunday, up to 60cm of snow is forecast to fall in many regions in the west and east as well as an area on the Sea of Japan coast, according to the agency.

A cold front swept the Japanese archipelago with the weather agency forecasting continued heavy snow on Sunday, especially in areas along the coast in northeastern and western Japan, kyodo reported.

Authorities warned people to be wary of black ice on roads and snow accumulations falling from electric wires and trees.

In the city of Tottori, snowfall reached 91cm, topping 90cm for the first time in 33 years, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The unusual snowfall seriously disrupted operations of the Sanin Line of West Japan Railway, forcing 26 passengers to sleep in a train overnight at Aoya Station in the city as it was unable to move because snow and trees fell onto the tracks between Tottori and Yonago stations.

Train operations resumed around 6:30pm, ending a suspension that lasted for some 22 hours since Friday evening, according to the operator widely called JR West.

Some 250 motor vehicles were stranded on snowy roads including Route 9, a thoroughfare in the prefecture, on Saturday, the land ministry and the prefectural government said.

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