December 25, 2005

One dead in Japan train crash as snow causes havoc

TOKYO (Reuters) - Heavy snow killed six people in Japan at
the weekend, disrupted holiday traffic, left thousands of
households without electricity and was blamed for a fatal
passenger train derailment.

An express train running behind schedule because of the
snow derailed in northern Japan on Sunday evening. One woman on
board was killed and at least 25 others were injured, officials

The first five cars of the six-car train left the tracks
after encountering strong winds while crossing a bridge over a
river, Kyodo news agency reported.

Three of the cars toppled onto their sides and four people
were trapped inside, one of them seriously hurt, officials

A severe snowstorm warning was issued in the area, police

Some of the heaviest snowfall on record for December has
hit the country since last week, even in some southern
prefectures that rarely see snow, but Tokyo has been spared.

In the western prefecture of Fukui, where snow has piled up
to more than 200 cm (78 inches) in some areas, a factory
building collapsed, killing a 72-year-old man, police said.

Among those who died over the weekend was a 78-year-old man
who fell from a ladder while trying to remove snow from the
roof of his home in northern Akita prefecture, police said.

In the northern prefecture of Niigata, where as many as
650,000 homes and businesses suffered a blackout last week,
about 1,100 households were left without electricity on Sunday
due to the snow, Kyodo said.

The snow has also snarled operations of the high-speed
bullet trains, used by many Japanese to spend the holiday
season with their families.

Some 23,000 passengers were affected by delays, Kyodo said.