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Deadly winter weather paralyzes Japan

Eastern Japan has been hit by heavy snowfall, killing several people and injuring hundreds. The winter weather has grounded flights, caused power outages and disrupted road and rail travel.

Hundreds of cars were stranded on a hillside road in Japan after being hit by the snowstorm, Japanese officials said on Sunday. The country's weather agency said the low pressure system will bring more snow north after passing the Tokyo region.

As many as 12 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in snow-related accidents over the weekend, according to the Kyodo news agency. Public broadcaster NHK said a further 2,150 people were evacuated from their homes over fears the amount of snow could cause their houses to collapse.

Tokyo saw as much as 27 centimeters of snow (10.6 inches) and numerous roads were either closed or congested. Transport officials delivered food and portable toilets to some areas.

Japan's largest air carrier, ANA Holdings, said 338 domestic flights and 12 international flights were canceled on Saturday due to the weather.

In Kawasaki, west of Tokyo, one passenger train crashed into another after the snow made the brakes ineffective. Nineteen people were injured.

The Toyko Electric Power Co Inc, which serves Tokyo and the surrounding regions, said as many as 246,000 homes were without power at some point on Saturday. By Sunday, some 18,000 homes still had no electricity, the company said.

Temperatures were as low as 2.6 degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday in Karuizawa, 150 kilometers (93 miles) north-west of Tokyo, where the snowfall was 90 centimeters deep, the weather agency said. As the weather moves north, the agency warned of more heavy snow, storms and snowslides, as well as high waves in eastern and northern Japan.

February has seen Japan's heaviest snowstorms in 45 years.

dr/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP)