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Snowstorm causes 134-car pileup along Japanese highway; one dead

Snowstorm causes 134-car pileup along Japanese highway; one dead

Cars are stuck on the snowy Tohoku Expressway in Osaki city, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, after a multiple car accident, on Jan 19. 2021. (Photo: Yuta Omori/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO: At least 134 cars were involved in a series of crashes in Japan on Tuesday (Jan 19) when a snowstorm struck a stretch of highway, with one person killed and a dozen hurt in the chaos.

Ten people were taken to hospital, two of them seriously injured, public broadcaster NHK said in a report.  

The crashes occurred on the Tohoku Expressway in the northern prefecture of Miyagi at around noon.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said a truck rammed into a passenger car, triggering the pileup over 1km stretch of the highway. 

A video of the site of an accident involving several cars, along the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan on Jan 19, 2021. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)
Damaged cars are covered with snow after a multiple vehicle accident on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki city on Jan 19 2021. (Photo: AP/Kyodo News/Yusuke Ogata)

The operator of the expressway was quoted by NHK as saying that the area was in a state of whiteout due to the wind and snow, with visibility reduced to near zero.

Authorities had imposed a speed limit of 50kmh when heavy snow cut visibility but that was not enough to prevent disaster.

About 200 people were stranded in the pileup, which forced the closure of the Tohoku Expressway 

Damaged cars are covered with snow after a multiple accident on the snowy Tohoku Expressway in Osaki city on Jan 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Kyodo News/Yuta Omori)
A video of the site of an accident involving several cars, along the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan on Jan 19, 2021. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

NHK said highway authorities finished cleaning up the debris after about eight hours.

Parts of Japan have seen unusually heavy snow in recent weeks.

Source: AGENCIES/ga

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