January 9, 2006

Death toll in record Japan snowfall rises

TOKYO (Reuters) - Heavy snowfall tailed off in Japan on
Monday, but left many parts of the country buried under the
deepest drifts on record with a death toll of 70 people killed.

Two more elderly people were found dead on Monday in
separate incidents apparently related to the snow, bringing the
toll to 70, Kyodo news agency said. More than 1,000 people have
been injured.

Many of the casualties were elderly people who had fallen
from the roofs of their houses as they tried to clear them of
snow, while others were crushed when their homes collapsed
under the weight of the drifts.

Blizzards were replaced by blue skies over some of the
worst-hit areas on the Japan Sea coast, but more snow was
expected in northern areas on Tuesday.

Japan's Meteorological Agency warned that higher
temperatures brought the threat of avalanches.

About 200 troops set to work clearing snow from roofs in
Akita City in the north of the main island of Honshu, adding to
those already working in Niigata and Nagano prefectures,
northwest of Tokyo.

"We were afraid the snow was going to fall down on
someone," one man in Akita told private broadcaster TV Asahi as
he watched the troops at work. "We're very glad they're here."