TOKYO • Japan's military was mobilised yesterday to help dig out more than 200 vehicles stuck in heavy snow, officials said.
Western Japan's Tottori prefecture has seen heavy snowfall since Monday night with a record 1m accumulating in one town.
Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai had requested the military aid early yesterday.
"In addition to 28 personnel who arrived in the early morning, 33 more are on the way," Mr Daisuke Amano of the prefecture's disaster prevention unit told Agence France-Presse.
He said there were about 240 cars unable to move at 7.30am. "The majority of them had been stuck since Monday evening."
But after troops arrived to help clear snow, the number of affected vehicles was reduced to about 100, the prefecture said.
Japanese media said that at one point more than 300 vehicles had been stuck, though there were no reports of any injuries. Some people reportedly left their cars to seek shelter while other drivers waited for the roads to be cleared.
Local resident Akemi Tanaka, 67, could not take her husband to his dialysis treatment at a hospital located about 30km away from their home because of the snowfall pile-up. "I've lived in Chizu for over 40 years, but this is the first time for me to see such a large snowfall," she told Mainichi Shimbun, referring to her town in Tottori prefecture.
The Japan Meteorological Agency had issued a warning on heavy snowfall in the region throughout last night.
The Transport Ministry is calling on residents in the affected areas to refrain from going out unnecessarily and to make sure that their vehicles are fitted with tyre chains.