Snow Storms Hit Northern Japan; Flights Are Canceled


Traffic moves during a snow storm in Towada City, Aomori Prefecture, north of Honshu, Japan, on Dec. 26, 2008. Photographer: Yoichi Okuyama/Bloomberg News

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) — Japan Airlines Corp. and All Nippon Airways Co. canceled flights between Japan’s northern islands of Hokkaido and Honshu as snow storms swept across the country, prompting warnings of avalanches and gales.

Japan Airlines canceled 78 flights, leaving more than 11,000 people stranded, a faxed statement from the airline said.

ANA had canceled 109 flights affecting 16,729 passengers, according to company spokeswoman Mie Takeichi said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings for heavy snow, high winds and thunderstorms from Hokkaido in the north to Fukui prefecture in central Honshu. Coastal residents throughout Hokkaido and Honshu were warned of high waves and storm surges.

In Sapporo, Hokkaido’s biggest city, 32 centimeters (1 foot) of snow fell by this morning, public broadcaster NHK Television reported on its Web site.

New Chitose airport, the main airport on Hokkaido, is closed due to heavy snow, Masachika Takahashi, a spokesman for Hokkaido Airport Terminal Co. said.

Four rail services were canceled on the island, Hokkaido Railway Co. said. One elementary school was closed in Kamiyubetsu town in the north of the island, the local education board said.

On Honshu, bullet train services north of Tokyo were operating normally, according to the Web site of East Japan Railways Co.

The heavy snow and gales are forecast to continue through tomorrow, the weather agency said on its Web site.

To contact the reporter on the story: Akiko Ikeda in Tokyo at iakiko@bloomberg.net; Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo at asheldrick@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: December 26, 2008 03:21 EST
By Akiko Ikeda and Aaron Sheldrick

Source: Bloomberg

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