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Ten Days of Dawn

Japan, North Korea Sound Warning as Deadly Cold Snap Sweeps Across Asia

Japan, North Korea Sound Warning as Deadly Cold Snap Sweeps Across Asia
folder_openAsia-Pacific... access_time 12 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Weather authorities in Japan and the Korean peninsula issued warnings over freezing temperatures and gales that have killed at least one person, and stranded thousands.

Severe cold weather has already caused fatalities, havoc and record low temperatures across the region in the last fortnight, with at least 124 people dead in Afghanistan and record lows of -53C in northeastern China.

Large parts of Japan are now in the grip of the severe cold spell, with some areas expected to experience their lowest temperatures for a decade. In the Korean peninsula, temperatures of -25C were recorded near the border between North and South Korea on Tuesday.

Heavy snowfall was predicted in central Japan and in the country’s north-east for most of Wednesday, while winds could reach up to 126 kph areas across the country, the country’s meteorological agency said. In the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, a record 93cm of snow was recorded in the city of Maniwa.

In western Japan, some rail passengers were left stranded for several hours on Tuesday, according to West Japan Railway, while domestic airlines said they would cancel more than 200 flights Wednesday. Bullet train services in the country’s north-east will also be suspended, the Kyodo news agency said.

The Japan meteorological agency has said that some parts of the country could see their lowest temperatures for 10 years, and warned that the cold snap would continue until Thursday, with blizzards and violent winds expected along the Japan Sea coast.

Strong winds may also be behind the sinking of a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship in the seas between western Japan and South Korea’s Jeju island on Wednesday morning, Reuters reported. Thirteen of the 22 crew members on board had been rescued but a search was continuing.

Officials have urged people to avoid non-essential journeys and to watch out for icy road conditions, public broadcaster NHK said. They have also warned that water pipes could freeze.

North Korean authorities have issued extreme cold weather warnings for the entire country, with temperatures forecast to drop to “dangerous lows” in some of its poorest regions, NK News reported.

The website quoted North Korea’s central radio broadcaster as saying that temperatures in the north of the country could dip below -30 C. In the capital, Pyongyang, the temperature was -19C early Wednesday, well below average for this time of the year, NK News added.