Snow storm hits Japan again, grounds over 100 flights

A worker removes snow from a sidewalk in Tokyo. -- PHOTO: AFP
A worker removes snow from a sidewalk in Tokyo. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Two people were killed Friday when a fresh snow storm hit Japan, disrupting rail and road travel, grounding more than 100 flights and adding to the piles left behind by an earlier blanketing.

Up to 12 inches of snow was forecast for some parts of the country by Saturday morning, a week after the heaviest snowfall in decades left at least 11 people dead and more than 1,200 injured.

Tokyo had a thin covering by early Friday afternoon and the weather agency was warning it would continue into the night.

The agency also warned of heavy snow in western and central Japan as well as strong winds and high waves along coastal areas.

The Kyodo news agency reported that two people were killed on Friday in snow-related accidents in the central Shiga and southwestern Oiga prefectures.

One victim was killed in a car crash while the other died when a tractor overturned on a snow-covered road. The report did not state which fatalities took place in which prefecture.

The storm caused significant travel disruption with delays on the "shinkansen" bullet train services and the closure of a number of highways across the country.

Japan Airlines (JAL) said it had cancelled 135 domestic flights for Friday - mostly from Tokyo's Haneda airport - and All Nippon Airways (ANA) grounded 40 flights across the nation. Jiji Press said 16,000 air passengers were affected.

Forecasters said the bad weather would continue into Saturday.

Last week, as much as 10.6 inches of snow was recorded in Tokyo, the capital's worst snowfall for 45 years.

While much of that snow had melted, the remains of larger piles as well as some slightly diminished snowmen were still in evidence across the city.