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Snow causes power losses at 1.34 mil. households in Niigata, Kinki.

TOKYO, Dec. 22 Kyodo

(EDS: INCORPORATING STORY HEADLINED SNOW SHUTS DOWN RUNWAY AT CENTRAL JAPAN AIRPORT)

Heavy snowfall hit Sea of Japan coastal areas Thursday, causing power failures at 697,200 households in the Kinki region and at 650,000 in Niigata Prefecture as well as paralyzing railway transportation.

Power was cut in Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and Nara prefectures for about 30 minutes after Kansai Electric Power Co.'s two nuclear power plants in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, which provides electricity to the area, automatically stopped operations possibly due to snow accumulation on the transmission lines, company officials said.

Power failures also occurred in the city of Niigata and its surrounding areas. The Niigata branch of Tohoku Electric Power Co. believes the severe snowstorm caused the wires to break.

About 1,100 traffic lights in Niigata, Agano and Nagaoka cities turned out, and several residents in high-rise condominium buildings in the city of Niigata were trapped inside elevators for a while.

Traffic was disrupted due to the power failures, with three lines of the Osaka municipal subway system temporarily halting operations, affecting 28,000 people.

JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line stopped operations between Nagaoka and Niigata stations and between other stations. Delays were seen on the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines. Ferries from Tokyo Bay were also cancelled.

Meanwhile, Central Japan International Airport, serving the Nagoya metropolitan region, decided to keep its runway closed until 4 p.m. due to snow.

The airport initially shut down its runway for around two hours from 7 a.m. because of freezing caused by sleet but decided to close it again from 11:22 a.m. due to continuing snowfall.

The closure is the first due to freezing weather conditions since Chubu Centrair International Airport opened in February, officials of the Central Japan International Airport Co. said.

Three flights from outside Japan were forced to change their scheduled destinations, with a Thai Airways International flight from Bangkok landing at Kansai International Airport in Osaka instead of Chubu airport.

In Hiroshima Prefecture, a heavy truck skidded and hit a woman who was standing by the road, killing her, the police said. In Shiga Prefecture, a 31-year-old man died after he was involved in a rear-end accident. Police said the road surface was wet and it was cloudy at the time.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Ono, Fukui Prefecture, saw 48 centimeters of snowfall during the 24 hours until noon and in Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture, it was 39 cm.

Aomori, Aomori Prefecture, accumulated 200 cm of snow, while Tsunan, Niigata Prefecture, totaled 191 cm.

Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, and Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture saw their first snow of the season.

Iinan, Shimane Prefecture, recorded an annual maximum snow accumulation of 133 cm, rewriting the previous record of 121 cm, while the city of Kagoshima logged a record snow accumulation for December for the first time in 88 years.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 27, 2005
Words:483
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